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Possibility of strike looms at Samsung as gov't wage arbitration fails

Samsung Electronics’ chip plant in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. (Samsung Electronics)
Samsung Electronics’ chip plant in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. (Samsung Electronics)

The state labor relations commission decided Monday to stop mediating wage negotiations between management and unionists at Samsung Electronics Co., raising the possibility of a walkout for the first time at the nation's largest conglomerate.

The National Labor Relations Commission failed to successfully bring the two parties to an agreement following two arbitration efforts in less than a week.

With the decision, the unions can go ahead with a walkout if their members vote for it.

If that happens, it would be the first strike at the world's largest memory chip and mobile phone maker since it was founded in 1969.

Lee Jae-yong, Samung Group's de facto leader and vice chairman at Samsung Electronics, scrapped the conglomerate's "no labor union" policy in May 2020.

The company's four union groups formed a collective bargaining group and have been talking with management since October. They demanded the company offer an annual salary increase of 10 million won (US$8,354) per employee and fully disclose its incentive system, among other things. The company did not accept the demand.

"The top management of Samsung Electronics Co. should now come forward to directly talk with the union (to solve the wage issue)," the labor group said in a press release.

The company said it will "sincerely talk to the union."

The biggest union among the four is said to have approximately 4,500 members, about 4 percent of the company's workforce of 114,000. (Yonhap)
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