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Kia workers to vote on potential strike for higher wages

(Kia Motors Corp.'s union)
(Kia Motors Corp.'s union)
Kia Motors Corp.'s union said Wednesday its unionized workers plan to vote on a potential strike next week to demand higher wages and performance-based bonuses.

Kia Motors and its union have held nine rounds of meetings in this year's wage talks but haven't narrowed the gap running deep between them over wages and bonuses.

The carmaker's 30,000-strong union will have the right to go on strike if more than 50 percent of the union members support a walkout in the vote due Nov. 3.

The union demanded the company increase the monthly basic pay by 120,000 won ($104) per person and offer 30 percent of its annual operating profit in performance-based pay.

The union held a press conference to criticize Kia's decision to put aside 1.26 trillion won in provisions for the recall of the faulty Theta II gasoline direct injection (GDi) engine and quality-related expenses, which sharply drove down the company's third-quarter profits.

"The company was expected to report an operating profit of 1.3 trillion won in the third quarter, but the reflection of the heavy provisions pushed it down to 195 billion won," the union said in the press conference.

In the July-September period, Kia's net profit fell to 133.68 billion won from 325.80 billion won a year earlier.

Operating profit plunged 33 percent to 195.23 billion won in the third quarter from 291.47 billion won a year ago. Sales rose 8.2 percent to 16.32 trillion won from 15.09 trillion won during the same period.

The union also expressed concerns about a possible reduction in its workforce due to Hyundai Mobis Co.'s plan to build an auto parts plant for hydrogen fuel cell electric and all-electric cars.

It demanded the company build the parts plant inside Kia's existing production facilities.

Last month, Hyundai Motor Co., which owns a 34 percent stake in Kia, sealed the wage deal with its union for the year, marking a wage agreement without a strike for the second consecutive year.

Hyundai's 49,598-member union accepted the company's proposal that included a freeze on basic pay, a one-off bonus amounting to 150 percent of monthly salary, 1.2 million won in special COVID-19 allowance, 10 company shares and 200,000 won in gift certificates.

It is the third time the company and the union agreed on a wage freeze, after the 1998 Asian financial crisis and the 2009 global financial crisis. (Yonhap)
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