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Financial, manufacturing industries hit by strikes

Two major labor unions, the nation’s largest labor unions in their sectors, said they would strike in July.

The Korean Metal Workers’ Union, the nation’s largest industrial union, has set up a nationwide one-day strike calling for better working conditions, members said Thursday.

The move comes four years after the Korean Metal Workers’ Union has staged a collective labor action 2008.

The union estimates about 130,000 workers from 211 companies will participate in the strike, making it the largest strike that includes members of automaking companies since the foundation of the metal union.

The strike is expected to severely affect firms where the unionists belong. Hyundai Motor Co. said it estimates production problems with about 7,000 cars.

Hyundai Motor manager Kim Youn-tae said, “the union said they can go on another strike on July 20 depending on the negotiation result, but all of our employees want to finish the talk before the summer vacation period.”

“We suppose that the strike will not take long. There will be another talk going on next week, and there is no need to worry beforehand.”

The metal workers’ union carried out a vote June 10-11 with an 89 percent participation rate, with 82.1 percent in favor of the strike.

The metal union strikers raised four general goals: abolishment of night labor, uprooting unfair business transactions with subcontractors, termination of temporary worker recruitment, and stricter observance of basic labor rights.

“We will by all means get rid of evil labor laws like (current) time-off policies, lay-off rules and the enforcement of single channel for multiple unionism,” a member of KMWU said, claiming the Lee Myung-bak administration failed to protect laborers’ rights in the past four years.

The Korea Financial Industry Union followed suit, voting to go on a one-day strike on July 30. About 84,000 of its 93,000 members participated in the voting process, 91 percent of whom supported the action.

“We hereby announce entering the general strike on July 30 in request of stronger publicity and termination of state-run finance that devastates the nation’s economy,” the KFIU unionists said to the press.

The KFIU members called for a 7 percent pay increase, shorter labor hours, abolishment of temporary-worker recruitment by 2015, and interest-free loans to 200,000 college students as their strike objectives.

If the government refuses to meet these conditions, KFIU said, the union will stage a rolling strike from Aug. 1, in addition to staging a second strike on Aug. 13.

Experts predict that the nation’s financial sector will face massive chaos, similar to the July 2000 financial general strike, if the finance union goes on strike as planned.

By Chung Joo-won (joowonc@heraldcorp.com)
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