Samsung Workers To Extend Action To Strike ‘Indefinitely’


Worker unrest in South Korea, as unionised workers at Samsung Electronics declare an indefinite strike at tech giant

The simmering unrest among workers at Samsung Electrics has exploded into the open this week, which could impact under a quarter of the electronics giant’s workforce.

The Associated Press reported that on Wednesday the National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) announced an “indefinite strike”, and accused the management of being unwilling to negotiate. Samsung Electronics reportedly said there have been no disruptions to production.

The move by the trade union comes after it had announced in June that its 28,000 members – just under a quarter of the company’s total workforce in the country – would stage a one-day walkout on 7 June, following failed negotiations over pay and bonus arrangements.

Strike action

Samsung has 267,860 staff globally, with about 120,000 based in South Korea.

The June walkout was believed to be the first workforce strike at Samsung Electronics.

Members are reportedly demanding a 3.5 percent increase in base salary. Samsung management previously offered a 3 percent rise in base salary but the union is pushing for an extra 0.5 percent to reflect inflation.

The NSEU is said to be the biggest of five unions at Samsung, and it is also seeking further commitments such as improvements to the performance-based bonus system and an extra day of annual leave to mark the union’s founding.

Now according to the Associated Press, thousands of NSEU members launched a temporary, three-day strike on Monday.

Then on Wednesday, the NSEU reportedly announced an indefinite strike.

Samsung has said it would remain engaged in negotiations.

“Samsung Electronics will ensure no disruptions occur in the production lines,” a Samsung statement reportedly said. “The company remains committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the union.”

However, the Associated Press cited a statement on the NSEU website, in which the union reportedly said it has engaged in unspecified disruptions on the company’s production lines to get management to eventually come to the negotiating table if the strikes continue.

“We are confident of our victory,” the union statement said.

Worker unrest

The union statement didn’t say how many of its members would join the extended strike, but earlier had said that 6,540 of its union members would participate in the earlier, three-day strike.

It comes as South Korea reportedly has thousands of medical interns and residents on strike since February, protesting a government plan to sharply increase medical school admissions.

But the worker unrest at Samsung comes amid a fresh wave of union activity at major tech multinationals in recent years.

Amazon in the UK for example has been rocked by reports of staff unrest and walkouts.