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Galaxy Unpacked 2024: Samsung union declares “indefinite general strike” in South Korea

Galaxy Unpacked 2024: Samsung union declares “indefinite general strike” in South Korea

Galaxy Unpacked 2024: Samsung union declares “indefinite general strike” in South Korea

A union representing tens of thousands of workers Samsung Electronics in South Korea announced an “indefinite general strike” on Wednesday to force the tech giant’s management to negotiate a pay rise.

The strike, the largest in the company’s history, is adding to pressure on the company, which last week predicted a big jump in operating profit for the second quarter.

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Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest memory chip manufacturer and accounts for a significant portion of global production of high-end chips used for generative artificial intelligence (AI).

More than 5,000 union members began a three-day walkout on Monday as part of their fight for higher wages and other benefits.

“We have declared a second general strike, indefinite, starting on July 10, after learning that management is not willing to hold talks after the first strike,” the Samsung Electronics National Union said in a statement.

Samsung workers have been on strike for three days and are now announcing an indefinite general strike. (Photo: AFP)

Workers are demanding higher wages, but experts say the protest would not have the desired effect. (Photo: AFP)

Workers are demanding higher wages, but experts say the protest would not have the desired effect. (Photo: AFP)

The union, which has more than 30,000 members – more than a fifth of the company’s workforce – had already held a 24-hour strike in June, the first at the company, which was union-free until 2019.

Samsung told AFP on Wednesday that the work stoppage would not affect production.

Avril Wu, an analyst at Taipei-based research group TrendForce, told AFP the strike is unlikely to have an impact as semiconductor factories are highly automated and demand for real labour is low.

“Even if the strike is prolonged, the current assessment is that it will still not have a significant impact,” he said.

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“We are confident of victory”

“Samsung Electronics will ensure that there are no disruptions to production lines,” a company spokesperson said, adding that “the company remains committed to maintaining good faith negotiations with the union.”

But the union said in a statement that it had “confirmed a clear disruption in production and management will regret this.”

“In the end, they will kneel down and come to the negotiating table. We are confident of victory,” he added, urging more workers to take part.

The company has been locked in negotiations with the union over wages and benefits since January.

The demonstration takes place in the same week as Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2024 in Paris, where it will present its new technological products with artificial intelligence. (Photo: AFP)

The demonstration takes place in the same week as Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2024 in Paris, where it will present its new technological products with artificial intelligence. (Photo: AFP)

The demands, released on Wednesday, include a 5.6 percent pay rise for all members, transparent performance-based bonuses, compensation for financial losses suffered due to the strike and a guaranteed day off on the union’s founding day.

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Samsung Electronics has managed to prevent its workers from unionizing for nearly 50 years — sometimes adopting fierce tactics, critics say — as it rose to become the world’s largest maker of smartphones and semiconductors.

The company’s founder, Lee Byung-chul, who died in 1987, was adamantly opposed to unions, saying that as long as he lived he would never allow them.

After the first union was formed in 2019, Lee Jae-yong, the founder’s grandson and current chairman of the company, declared an end to the non-union principle in 2020.

Samsung Electronics is the main subsidiary of the South Korean giant Samsung Group, the largest of the conglomerates that dominate the business of the fourth largest Asian economy.

Source: Elcomercio

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