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‘Let’s Join Forces’: Samsung Electronics Union Announces Indefinite General Strike

‘Let’s Join Forces’: Samsung Electronics Union Announces Indefinite General Strike

‘Let’s Join Forces’: Samsung Electronics Union Announces Indefinite General Strike

After decades of unionlessness within the company, the move could be a milestone. The union representing tens of thousands of workers at South Korean giant Samsung Electronics announced Wednesday that it would extend a three-day strike “indefinitely” to force management to negotiate. It calls for “an obvious disruption to production,” which the company disputes.

“(We) are calling a second indefinite general strike starting July 10 after learning that management is unwilling to discuss the consequences of the first general strike,” the national union of Samsung Electronics said in a statement. The company, a flagship subsidiary of Samsung Group, is one of the world’s largest smartphone makers and one of the few makers of expensive memory cards used for artificial intelligence.

Management ‘will eventually be brought to its knees’, unions bet

More than 5,000 employees walked off the job on Monday for a three-day strike after lengthy negotiations over wages and benefits collapsed. The move followed a one-day strike in June that was the first social movement of its kind at the company, which has been union-free for decades. Samsung Electronics’ national union now has more than 30,000 members, representing more than a fifth of the company’s workforce.

The union has been in talks with management since January, but the two sides have failed to reach an agreement. Employees have rejected a 5.1% pay rise, while the union is also demanding better annual leave and transparency in performance bonuses.

Samsung told AFP on Wednesday that the strike would not affect production. “Samsung Electronics will ensure that there are no disruptions on the production lines,” a spokesman told AFP. “The company continues to negotiate in good faith with the union.” But the union acknowledged “an obvious disruption in production” and added that the longer the strike lasted, “the more the management will suffer.” “Eventually, it will kneel and sit at the negotiating table. We are confident of victory,” he added.

Almost 50 years without any union

The union criticized Samsung management for “obstructing” the strike, saying it seemed unwilling to engage in dialogue. “Your determination is essential to our goals and our victory. Let us join forces to protect our rights and create a better future,” it insisted, calling on employees to join the movement, especially “those who are still hesitant.”

The impact of the strike “depends on various factors such as the duration of the strike, lost production days and the strategy for recouping losses,” Neil Shah, vice president of Counterpoint, told AFP Research. He said it was also important to know “how Samsung’s management prepared, knowing that this could happen and already (anticipating) through modeling solutions to quickly resolve this issue.”

videoHeadbands and black outfits… Samsung workers’ impressive strike in South Korea

Before that, the company had discouraged unionization among its employees for nearly 50 years, sometimes using violence, according to its detractors. The company’s founder, Lee Byung-chul, who died in 1987, was staunchly opposed to unions, saying he would never allow one to form “unless I had dust in my eyes.” Samsung Electronics’ first union finally formed in the late 2010s.

The announcement of the mass walkout came as Samsung Electronics said last week it expected second-quarter operating profit to jump 15-fold from a year earlier, thanks to a rebound in chip prices and rising demand for its products used in artificial intelligence. Those chips are South Korea’s biggest export, earning the country $11.7 billion in March, the highest in nearly two years. That accounts for a fifth of the country’s total exports.

Source: Le Parisien

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