Hyundai Motor union demands higher wages, shorter hours

Wed May 14, 2014 9:11pm EDT
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By Hyunjoo Jin

SEOUL (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Co's (005380.KS: Quote) South Korean labor union has demanded higher pay and bonuses and more cuts to working hours, as the automaker heads into annual wage talks in June under the threat of industrial action.

Any strike action in South Korea - which makes nearly 40 percent of Hyundai vehicles sold globally - could disrupt supply around the world as the company fights to reverse a fall in profits linked to the stronger won and competition from the likes of Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: Quote).

New union boss Lee Kyung-hoon is seen as a moderate but he has not ruled out industrial action, telling a union newspaper in February that he was "willing to risk waging an all-out war" to get a better deal for workers.

Hyundai, the world's fifth-biggest automaker along with its affiliate Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS: Quote), has been hit by strikes in all but four of the union's 27-year history, leading to lost production worth 14.4 trillion won ($14.06 billion).

Union delegates finalized their demands late Wednesday, including a 8.2 percent rise in the monthly basic wage and performance pay totaling 30 percent of the automaker's 2013 net profit distributed to workers.

The most contentious issue would be expanding the definition of the regular wage, which is the basis for calculating overtime and other payments to the firm's 47,000 workers in South Korea.

The union is also calling for daily working hours to be trimmed by one hour to 16 from 2015, after the automaker scaled them back from 20 to 17 starting from March last year.


The logo of Hyundai Motor is seen on the steering wheel of a car at a Hyundai dealership in Seoul April 25, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji