The Korea Herald


Hyundai Motor's workers reject wage deal in labor union vote

By 배현정

Published : Aug. 27, 2016 - 10:31

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Workers at South Korea's leading carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. have voted down a tentative wage-hike agreement, forcing their labor union to renegotiate the thorny issue, union officials said Saturday.

It marks the first time that the firm's unionized workers, currently totaling 49,665, have rejected such an annual pay deal, provisionally agreed, since 2008.

A total of 45,777 members participated in Thursday's vote and 35,727 of them, or 78.05 percent, were against the accord.
Unionists of Hyundai Motor in Ulsan vote on the tentative wage-hike deal on Friday. Yonhap Unionists of Hyundai Motor in Ulsan vote on the tentative wage-hike deal on Friday. Yonhap

Earlier this week, the company management and union leaders struck a deal to raise the monthly base pay of an employee by 58,000 won (US$52). Each worker will also receive 350 percent of the base monthly payment and an additional 3.3 million won in performance incentives.

Many members of the labor union were apparently displeased with the wage hike rates.

Under the 2015 deal, their monthly salary went up by 85,000 won along with a 400 percent bonus and an additional 4.2 million won in incentives.

The labor union has also struggled with internal conflicts among several factions, inside sources said, adding some members of the union even staged an unannounced campaign to vote down the agreement.

It remains uncertain that a new wage agreement will be reached before Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving holiday, in mid-September.

The management claims relatively small pay hikes are inevitable due to unfavorable business conditions both at home and abroad.

"Operating profits have decreased each year since recording 8.44 trillion won in 2012. In the first half of this year, operating profits dropped 7 percent to 3.1 trillion won, compared to the same period last year," a company official said.

In return for the smaller pay rise this year, the management retracted plans for a wage peak system to start cutting payments for workers as they near retirement, he pointed out.

The unionized workers of Hyundai Motor have staged 14 rounds of partial walkouts since the wage talks began in July.

Their collective action has affected the production of 65,500 cars, worth 1.4 trillion won, company officials said.