Samsung Electronics workers announce ‘indefinite’ strike


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Union members at Samsung Electronics declared an indefinite strike on Wednesday to pressure South Korea’s largest company to accept their demands for higher wages and other benefits.

Thousands of members of the National Samsung Electronics Union began a temporary, three-day strike on Monday. But the union said Wednesday it was declaring an indefinite strike, accusing management of not wanting to negotiate. Samsung Electronics said there had been no disruptions to production.

“Samsung Electronics will ensure that there are no disruptions to the production lines,” Samsung said in a statement. “The company remains committed to entering into good faith negotiations with the union.”

However, the union said in a statement on its website that unspecified disruptions to the company’s production lines are being planned to eventually bring management to the negotiating table if the strikes continue.

“We are confident that we have won,” the union statement said.

The union statement did not say how many members would join the extended strike. Earlier, it said 6,540 of the union’s members had said they would join the earlier three-day strike.

That would be just a fraction of Samsung Electronics’ total workforce, estimated at about 267,860 worldwide. About 120,000 of them are in South Korea.

Earlier this year, union members and management held rounds of talks over the union’s demands for higher wages and better working conditions, but failed to reach an agreement. In June, some union members collectively used their annual leave in a one-day strike that observers said was the first strike at Samsung Electronics.

About 30,000 Samsung workers are reportedly members of the National Samsung Electronics Union, the company’s largest union. Some are also members of other, smaller unions.

In 2020, Samsung CEO and then-vice chairman Lee Jae-yong said he would stop suppressing workers’ attempts to organize unions, expressing regret over his alleged involvement in a massive 2016 corruption scandal that ousted the country’s president.

The company’s union-busting practices have been criticized by activists for decades, although labor action is common at other companies and in other sectors of society in South Korea.

Thousands of South Korean medical residents and doctors in training have been on strike since February in protest against a government plan to dramatically increase medical school enrollment.

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