Hyundai Workers Fight for Wages in Endorsing Strike

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Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Paul Cho, partner at Lee & Ko, breaks down the grievances over wages that lead to 70 percent of workers at Hyundai Motor Co. in South Korea endorsing a potential strike. He speaks with Rishaad Salamat on “On the Move.”

Years, the labor and unemployment group.

First of all, give us an idea of what this strike is all about.

Good morning.

Thank you for having me.

I think that this particular strike, what has made it quite interesting is that there was a supreme court ruling at the end of last year that dealt with whether or not certain regular bonuses or allowances would be included in the ordinary wage.

For those of you who might not be familiar with that, in korea, the ordinary wage is used to calculate overtime, unused vacation.

In korea, wage-related claims go back three years for employees.

So the ruling was a landmark decision not only because it was the full bench of the supreme court that made the decision, but the court said that companies should honor its ruling.

One thing i would like to note is the facts of this case.

Depending on the facts of each company, the result could be different.

We have had some differences from what has come out from the last number by the supreme court.

It seems, quite often, reading from the research that you sent me, previous years' strikes have been about job security.

This is a bit of a departure, is it not?

It is a departure.

It is quite different.

In korea, there have been less than 30 years of elections without military rule.

Over the last 27 years, there have been a lot of changes.

Some have been quite substantial.

1987, there were a lot of demonstrations and things started to stabilize.

Then korea got hit with the 1997 asian economic crisis.

Things stabilized again and then we get hit with the world financial crisis.

Jobs were lost.

This is a country where there is employment for life.

It was quite a shock to the employees.

The prize that job security has always been one of their first priorities.

More recently because of a supreme court case dealing with the issue of wages.

We are seeing something new, but because of the relatively short history of the modern economy, i believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

This story was meant to start off today.

We are looking at friday for it to start off.

Does that say that the talks are making progress on the two sides?

You say there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

Could they be coming closer together?

Yes, you are right.

What has been reported in the local press is that the union has announced that it will meet with management one more time on the 20th and if those talks result in no agreement, the strike will start this friday.

The metalworkers union, which the hyundai-kia union is affiliated with, they recommended an earlier strike as early as the 20th and 22nd.

This is a common practice in korea.

In many cases, they try to test the resolve of management and minimize the impact on their employees.

If you go on a full strike, you are not getting paid.

One thing i would like to talk about is the general changing landscape when it comes to labor relations in korea.

Many are renowned to be radical and vociferous in their claims, but they seem to be a little bit more muted.

That is my take on it.

What is yours?

I think you are absolutely right.

Things have gotten better.

Over the last 10 years, except for maybe a couple of years, the number of strikes have gone down as well as the days lost in production.

We are seeing a relatively short history, less than 30 years, in dealing with these situations.

I think the unions are aware of the fact that, going forward, this type of practice cannot be maintained for the benefit of the nation as well as for the employees.

Personally, i think we are headed towards a system where it will be a european, industrial union-type program.

Light japan as well?

-- like japan as well?

Correct although the union

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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