Workers at Samsung Electronics have reportedly walked out on Friday in strike action – the first such action in Samsung’s 95 year history.

CNN reported that last week the Nationwide Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) had said that its 28,000 members – just under a quarter of the company’s total workforce in the country – would stage a one-day strike on 7 June, following failed negotiations over pay and bonus arrangements.

The union reportedly asked its members to take a day off on Friday, which falls between a public holiday on Thursday and the weekend.

The leaders of Samsung Foundry Business and Semiconductor R&D Center are holding up three fingers as a symbol of 3nm celebrating the company’s first ever production of 3nm process with GAA architecture. Image credit: Samsung

Samsung strike

Son Woomok, a union leader, told CNN that “many employees used their annual leave today,” and at one site “all workers had taken leave so replacement personnel were deployed.”

It is not clear at the time of writing how many Samsung workers actually walked out, or how many union members opted to use their annual leave entitlement to participate in the strike.

CNN reported that Son Woomok had previously stated many NSEU members work for Samsung’s flagship semiconductor unit.

A Samsung spokesperson told CNN that, “there is no impact on production and management activities” as a result of the one-day walkout.

“Today’s annual leave use rate is lower than last year’s Memorial Day holiday’s annual leave use rate,” the spokesperson reportedly added.

The strike is said to stem from arguments after Samsung Electronics decided to increase wages this year by 5.1 percent, Reuters reported.

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

Last week, other unions at Samsung reportedly called on the NSEU to pursue negotiation rather than confrontation, indicating they would not join the strike.

No impact

Market intelligence firm Trend Force last week stated in a blog post that the strike “will not impact DRAM and NAND Flash production, nor will it cause any shipment shortages.”

Trend Force gave the reasoning that “the strike involves employees at Samsung’s headquarters in Seocho, Seoul, where union participation in higher, but these employees do not directly engage in production.”

Another reason the strike would not impact production or supply was because the strike was planned for only one day, which falls within the flexible scheduling range for production.

Samsung’s global share of DRAM and NAND Flash output in 2023 was 46.8 percent and 32.4 percent, respectively.

The South Korean plants account for all 46.8 percent of global DRAM production and about 17.8 percent of global NAND Flash production.

The other major manufacturing location is of course Taiwan.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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