Hyundai Heavy workers extend walkout for another week

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- Unionized workers at Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., South Korea's top shipbuilder, have decided to extend their ongoing walkout for another week to up the ante in their wage negotiations with the management as the company urged them to return to work, the labor union said Friday.

The unionized workers were to end the strike on the day, which started Tuesday, occupying a shipbuilding crane in Ulsan, 414 kilometers southeast of Seoul, after the wage deal fell through.

In response to the walkout, the management sought a court order to ban the unionists from occupying the crane and fine 26 leading union members 50 million won (US$43,656) each if they do not call off the sit-in strike and remove tents and banners for the strike set up around the crane.

"The extension of the full strike aims to wind up the long-pending wage deal as soon as possible by pressing the management to have sincere negotiations with the union," Kim Hyeong-gyun, director of policy planning at the union, told Yonhap News Agency.

The union and management held nine rounds of wage negotiations from June 23 till Monday, one day before the unionists went on a full strike, but the management did not suggest any specific proposals to end the wage dispute during the negotiations, Kim said.

Han Young-seuk, chief executive of the shipbuilder, appealed for the unionists who have been joining in the strike to get back to work, promising the company will share any profits with the employees.

Han stressed that the occupation of the production facilities by the unionized workers is an apparent breach of law.

Unionized workers turned down the tentative agreement for the wage deal for 2019 to 2020 on Feb. 5 and again on April 2.

The first tentative agreement included a basic pay raise of 46,000 won for 2019, a wage freeze for 2020 and the cancellation of a lawsuit against union members who opposed the creation of a holding company in 2019.

The second tentative agreement entailed a special bonus of 2 million won that was not included in the first tentative agreement, as the management's offer for a basic pay raise failed to meet the workers' demands.

Hyundai Heavy Industries was spun off from KSOE, a subholding company of the shipbuilding conglomerate.

KSOE has been pushing ahead with the group's plan to acquire the country's No. 2 shipbuilder, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME).

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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