Spread the love

South Korea: Samsung employees begin general strike

Employees of South Korean technology giant Samsung have started to take action. Monday an unprecedented three-day general strike, indicated a union leader after the failure of salary negotiations.

Samsung Electronics is one of the world's largest smartphone manufacturers and one of the few producers of high-value memory cards used for artificial intelligence (AI).

“The strike started today,” Son Woo-mok, head of the national Samsung Electronics union representing tens of thousands of members, told AFP.

Wearing black rain jackets and ribbons reading “solidarity struggle”, thousands of workers gathered in front of the foundry and semi-finished plant company drivers in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, south of Seoul.

“Today's general strike is just the beginning “, launched Son Woo-mok. “We ask that you do not go to work before July 10 and do not receive business calls.”

According to the union, some 5,200 people working in the factory, in manufacturing and development, joined the protest movement.

“Does management still think that this will not affect the production line?,” asks Lee Hyun-kuk, vice president of the union.

“I’m very excited,” said a union member and protester without giving his name. “We are making history.

The union, which has some 30,000 members, or more than a fifth of the total membership of the company, announced a three-day strike last week, indicating that it was a last resort after the failure of negotiations.

This movement following a one-day walkout in June, the first action of this type within the company which has not seen unionization for decades

. The management of the company, the world's largest producer of memory chips, has been conducting wage negotiations with the union since January but the two parties have not reached an agreement.

“We are now at a crossroads,” the union said in an appeal to workers last week, urging them to support a “critical” strike.

“This strike is the last card we can use,” the union said, adding that the company's employees must “act in unity.”

Employees rejected an offer of a 5.1% salary increase, while the union also demanded an improvement in annual leave and transparency of bonuses based on performances.

Samsung management, contacted by AFP, did not comment.

– Unionization long prevented –

“Even though the current strike is only scheduled for three days, participating employees include those who work on chip assembly lines,” Kim Dae-jong, a business professor at the University of Technology, told AFP. Sejong University.

“Given that the union could extend the strike if the blockage continues, this could represent a significant risk for Samsung management” in its race in the competitive market of fleas, he estimated.

South Korea: Samsung employees begin general strike

Samsung Electronics' semiconductor factory in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, on November 19, 2019. © AFP – Ed JONES

For nearly 50 years, the company prevented its employees from unionizing, sometimes with violent methods, according to its detractors.

The founder of company, Lee Byung-chul, who died in 1987, was adamantly opposed to unions, saying he would never allow them “until I get dust in my eyes.”

Samsung Electronics' first union was formed in the late 2010s.

Samsung Electronics is the flagship subsidiary of Samsung Group, the largest of the family-owned conglomerates that dominate Asia's fourth-largest economy.

Samsung Electronics said last week it expects a 15-fold increase in operating profit in second quarter year-on-year thanks to a rebound in chip prices and an increase in demand for its products used for artificial intelligence.

Semiconductors are today at the heart of the global economy. They are used in everything from household appliances to cell phones, cars and weapons.

These chips are the main export product of the South Korea and brought the country $11.7 billion in March, their highest level in almost two years. This represents a fifth of the country's total exports.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116