Samsung Electronics workers to go on first strike in company’s 55-year history

Posted on : 2024-07-02 18:03 KST Modified on : 2024-07-02 18:16 KST
The National Samsung Electronics Union will carry out its first round of the strike on July 8-10
Members of the National Samsung Electronics Union launched a bus encampment outside Samsung’s offices in Seoul’s Seocho neighborhood on May 29, 2024, one day after negotiations with management fell through. (courtesy of NSEU)
Members of the National Samsung Electronics Union launched a bus encampment outside Samsung’s offices in Seoul’s Seocho neighborhood on May 29, 2024, one day after negotiations with management fell through. (courtesy of NSEU)

The National Samsung Electronics Union declared on Monday it will go on general strike. For the first time in the company’s 55-year history, Samsung Electronics is set to experience a real general strike, in which participants cease all company duties.

Son Woo-mok, the president of the union, declared a general strike on a livestream broadcast via the union’s YouTube channel. The first wave of the strike will take place from July 8 to 10. 

“The proposals presented by the company during the third round of negotiations infuriated union members and leaders, making any attempts at peaceful resolution meaningless,” Son announced. 

“Until the company meets our demands, we will engage in a general strike with no work and no pay. We have a right to strike, and the company has brought this upon itself,” Son added. 

The union held two rounds of talks with Samsung Electronics, on June 18 and 21. During the third round on June 27, Samsung offered a one-time payment of company points (worth around US$359), a reduction of two days in obligatory leave (with compensation for unused vacation), and a pledge to continue negotiations between company executives and union leaders. 

The union held a vote on Monday on whether to accept Samsung’s offer or go on strike. The vote ended at 5 pm. The union held two rounds of last-minute negotiations with Jun Young-hyun, Samsung Electronics vice chairman, at 5:30 pm and at 8 pm, but to no avail. The union is reported to have demanded wage increases and benefits for those who refused to sign the company’s 2024 salary negotiation agreement and more paid time off. 

“The unilateral salary proposal for 2024 to raise wages by 3% was rejected by 855 union members. We have demanded a greater salary increase,” Son continued. 

The union also demanded that Samsung clarify and improve its standards for bonuses and incentives, including its overall performance incentives, which are calculated according to an opaque economic value-added method. The union demanded that Samsung make good on promises made by the management’s negotiators regarding paid leave (that was rejected by Chung Hyun-ho), as well as demanding that the company reimburse union members for the losses they have incurred while on strike without pay. 

The union has been in negotiations with Samsung since January. Since then, the union has secured the authority to carry out strikes following the end of a mediation process between it and management overseen by the National Labor Relations Commission, which was followed up by a vote by union members. On May 29, Samsung workers announced they would embark on the first strike in the company’s history. On June 7, it carried out its first collective action in which union members used PTO. 

The union represents 28,310 members, the most of any union at Samsung Electronics.

By Kim Hae-jeong, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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