Samsung Electronics facing first worker strike in its history?

The workers have been seeking a pay hike to tackle inflation and the right to unionise


Samsung Electronics Co. is reportedly facing a strike by workers, probably for the first time in its history. The unionised workers threatened to stage a walkout as the company had failed to meet its demand for higher wages and also tried to keep unionisation in check.

The union, with its 10,000-strong membership, represents about seven per cent of the company’s employees, has been demanding that the management be open to salary negotiations with the union leaders. They want Jay Y. Lee, chairman, Samsung, to meet them for discussions. Their grouse is that even though the chairman had been apologetic about a management free of unions over two years ago, he had failed to meet or discuss with them.

While the union had earlier sought more than 6 per cent hike to tackle inflation of over 4 per cent, the company had announced a 4.1 per cent hike for its best performers and 2 per cent increment for the average performers for 2023 in April. This time, however, it is reported that the union began by seeking a 10 per cent hike but went on to propose other options including a premium over rivals or a lump-sum amount.

Samsung is already struggling amidst a fall in demand, globally, for its memory chips, smartphones and appliances. In fact, it is reported that the company’s chips business alone incurred losses of over $3 billion in the March quarter. Therefore, the strike call could not have come at a worse time.

If the strike does materialise, the other unions of the Samsung Group — 11 in number — will also join hands with the striking workers.

Meanwhile, Samsung expects that demand will improve, but in a gradual way, be it in the smartphones market or the storage or computer market.

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