South Korean Union at Hyundai votes to approve strike

Hyundai Motor Workers Vote for Strike Action

Hyundai Motor’s unionized workers in South Korea have voted for possible strike action as talks with the company regarding wage increases and an extension of the retirement age have reached an impasse. The union, consisting of more than 43,000 members, revealed that almost 90% of its members have approved strike action if the company does not meet the union’s demands. This potential strike, the first of its kind in six years related to wage negotiations at the South Korean carmaker, could disrupt the production of popular vehicles, hindering both local and export sales.

## Background and Negotiations
The union has expressed willingness to engage in negotiations with the management if there is a shift in the company’s stance. Despite holding eight rounds of wage negotiations up to mid-June, the parties have failed to reach a resolution. Hyundai Motor declined to make any comments regarding the situation.

## Potential Impact
While it remains uncertain whether a strike will actually occur, analysts have pointed out that if one does take place, it could significantly affect Hyundai’s short-term sales, particularly in the United States, which is the company’s largest revenue-generating market. The management might try to leverage Hyundai’s new U.S. plant, its major investment outside South Korea, to reduce its reliance on domestic production.

## Union’s Demands
The union is pushing for a minimum basic monthly pay increase of 159,800 won ($115.14) and 30% of Hyundai’s 2023 net profit as performance pay. Additionally, they are advocating for an increase in the retirement age from 60 to 64, reflecting South Korea’s higher life expectancy and concerns about insufficient retirement pensions.

## Analyst Insights
Chang Moonsu, an analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities, noted that the union’s inclination towards strike action is not uncommon. However, this year may see a more aggressive approach from the union due to Hyundai’s successful performance and the waning effects of the pandemic. In the event of a strike, management may encourage non-participating workers to put in overtime to mitigate disruptions in production.

In conclusion, the potential strike by Hyundai Motor’s unionized workers in South Korea underscores the ongoing challenges in negotiations between labor and management. The outcome of these discussions will not only impact the company’s short-term sales but also its global operations. Both parties will need to find common ground to avoid disruptions and ensure the sustainability of Hyundai’s business operations.

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