Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Samsung Staff Begin Indefinite Strike for Better Pay

black samsung android smartphone on top of brown wooden tablke
Photo by John Tekeridis on

Unionized staff for the first time have announced an “indefinite general strike” at Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. for the company to yield to the demand for salary increases and other benefits. According to the National Samsung Electronics Union, what was supposed to be a three-day strike has just made a turn toward an indefinite action because the firm has not engaged in negotiations.

The union, which represents more than 30,000 workers, had announced a strike on Monday, in which more than 5,000 unionized workers had stopped the production process. The three-day strike was extended after the union accused the management of companies of unwillingness to talk. “We declare a second indefinite general strike from July 10, after learning that the management has no willingness to talk,” said the NSEU statement.

The world’s largest memory chipmaker, Samsung Electronics, has said the action will not impact production. “Samsung Electronics will ensure no disruptions occur in the production lines,” the company said. It was staying on course for a good-faith way of negotiations with the union to resolve the dispute. The Union countered and said it confirmed “clear disruption in production” and was confident prolonged action would have management at the negotiation table.

That is a 5.6 percent increase in wages, transparent performance-based bonuses, reimbursement for losses that were incurred in terms of finance during the strike, and a compulsory off for union day. These come in the wake of long-running wrangles over pay and benefits; negotiations between the Union and Management have been taking place since January.

Despite the walkout, analysts said the strike was probably not going to have a huge impact on production, considering the highly automated nature of Samsung’s semiconductor factories. “Even if the strike is extended, the current assessment is that there will still be no significant impact,” said Avril Wu, an analyst at Taipei-based research group TrendForce.

Samsung Electronics has a long history of labor unions, having successfully kept unions out for almost five decades. The first successful labor union in the company started functioning in 2019, and the current chairman, Lee Jae-Yong, recently announced the abolishment of the no-union policy in this firm. In this regard, the company had made a dramatic change in its labor policy from being a vehemently anti-union organization to one that has embraced unionization.

The walkout comes as Samsung is forecasting its second-quarter operating profits to increase over 15 times from the year before, bolstered by surging demand for generative AI. The hike recently agreed to be an average of 5.1 percent for 2024, in effect, but the union collective here is looking for more.

With the strike dragging on, a resolution is not entirely out of the question. After all, the NSEU, recognized as Samsung Electronics’ representative bargaining unit, will sit back down at the negotiating table before its status as the representative union expires in August.

The success of this labor act could set precedence for landmark labor relations within the global technology giant, which would underline the consistent struggle for workers’ rights and fair wages in the tech world.

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