Workers at top South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor yesterday voted to strike for better pay and working conditions — a year after ending the costliest dispute in the company’s history.
Ignoring an appeal from management, labor unions at Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors opted for industrial action, which will begin after a legally binding period of mediation that typically lasts about 10 days.
Hyundai’s union wants a 130,500 won (US$120) increase in basic monthly salary for workers, a performance-based bonus equivalent to eight month wages and a one-off shared cash payment for members amounting to US$2.4 billion — or 30 percent of last year’s net profit.
Kia’s union has presented similar proposals.
The Hyundai management had tried to avoid a costly stoppage with a message to unionized workers saying the company could not afford to meet their demands at a time of heightened competition and slowing growth in overseas markets.
“We’ve seen a decline in our earnings because foreign brands quickly eat into our domestic market share and the economy at home and abroad remains sluggish,” the message said.
The union staged 28 partial strikes between July and September last year, cutting production by more than 82,000 vehicles valued at 1.7 trillion won.
Kia lost an estimated 1.03 trillion won to industrial action last year.
Hyundai’s second-quarter net profit this year fell 1 percent from a year earlier to 2.52 trillion won.
Separately, Hyundai is recalling 239,000 Sonata and Azera sedans in cold-weather US states because road salt can corrode the rear suspension.
The recall affects 215,000 Sonata midsize sedans from the 2006 to 2010 model years, and 24,000 Azera full-size sedans from 2006 to 2011.
Hyundai says salt can corrode the rear suspension crossmember, which is part of the vehicle’s frame. In advanced cases, the crossmember could detach from the control arms that lead to the wheels, which could affect wheel alignment and increase the risk of a crash.