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Hyundai employees stage first wage strike in 12 years

2016-09-27 11:22

BIG STRIKE: Hyundai faces the first strike of its workers due to wage negotiations that have come to a standstill. Image: AFP / Yonhap

Seoul - Tens of thousands of unionised workers at South Korea's Hyundai Motor staged their first full strike on Monday (September 26) in more than a decade after negotiations over a wage increase stalled.

Nearly 50 000 workers at Hyundai Motor's three plants across the country - including the main one in the southern city of Ulsan - walked off the job throughout Monday, said a spokesman for its labour union.

Wage increase demands

The day-long stoppage is the first full strike at the company since 2004.

The workers would also stage a six-hour partial strike from Tuesday to Friday, the union spokesman said.

READ: Workers laid off as Apple halts self-driving car project

Hyundai's union has staged partial strikes every year since 2012, including nearly 20 such stoppages this year, demanding higher wages and better benefits.

The latest demands from workers include an wage increase of 7.2% as well as bonuses for employees that would in total be worth 30% of last year's net profit.

Hyundai is South Korea's biggest automaker and, along with its smaller affiliate Kia, forms the world's fifth-largest carmaking group.

But it has struggled in recent years due to currency swings and slumping sales in emerging markets, including China.

READ: Numsa signs wage deal - Labour dispute doesn't have to result in strike action in SA

Hyundai has reported a drop in net profit for 10 consecutive quarters, most recently the second quarter of 2016.

The firm has estimated the financial losses from the series of strikes staged so far this year at more than $1.8 billion.

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