Samsung union says it will strike indefinitely

JUNG YEON-JE/ AFP

A workers' union at tech giant Samsung Electronics in South Korea said on Wednesday it would continue to strike indefinitely, stepping up its campaign for better pay and benefits.

The National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU), whose roughly 30,000 members make up almost a quarter of the firm's South Korean workforce, said it has decided to continue striking because management has shown no indication of holding talks after a strike that started on Monday.

"We haven't spoken to management since we started the strike on Monday," said Lee Hyun-kuk, the union's vice president.

The union said it would extend the strike, which was initially planned to last three days through Wednesday. Lee told Reuters that the strike has disrupted production on certain chip lines such as with equipment running more slowly.

Samsung said the strike had caused no disruption during the first three days.

"Samsung Electronics will ensure no disruptions occur in the production lines. The company remains committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the union," the company said in a statement.

The union is becoming more vocal and seeking to be treated as an equal partner, adding to challenges at the world's biggest memory chipmaker which is struggling to navigate competition in chips used for artificial intelligence (AI) applications.

Lee said about 6,500 workers have been participating in the strike and that the union will encourage more members to join.

Union officials have disputed reports of low participation, telling Reuters that the five-year-old body did not have enough time to educate members about the labour issues. The union held a training session on Tuesday and will conduct another on Wednesday.

Analysts said it would be difficult to verify whether the strike has disrupted production unless the union provides details of wafers and processes.

The union said it has revised demands to include a 3.5 per cent increase in base salary and, instead of an extra day's annual leave, a day off to mark the union's founding. Lee said the management previously offered a 3 per cent rise in base salary but the union wants 3.5 per cent to better reflect inflation.

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