Samsung workers start a three-day general strike over pay

Workers at South Korean electronics giant Samsung began a three-day general strike on Monday over wages and benefits, according to the head of a union representing tens of thousands of employees, who warned that the action could disrupt memory chip production.

Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest memory chip manufacturer, accounting for a sizable portion of worldwide high-end semiconductor production.

Thousands of workers gathered outside the company’s foundry and semiconductor factory in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, about an hour south of Seoul, wearing rain coats and “fight with solidarity” ribbons.

Samsung management has been negotiating with the union since January, but the two sides have been unable to narrow benefits disparities and the firm’s offer of a 5.1% wage hike has been rejected.

“The strike began today,” Son Woo-mok, leader of the National Samsung Electronics Union, told AFP.
“Today’s general strike is only the beginning,” he explained.

“Recalling why we are here, please do not come to work until July 10th and do not receive any business calls,” he warned the workers.

The union reported that approximately 5,200 personnel from factory facilities, production, and development had joined the demonstration.

“Do they still not think this will affect their production line?” stated Lee Hyun-kuk, the union’s vice president.
The union, which has over 30,000 members, or more than a fifth of the company’s total workforce, declared the three-day general strike last week, claiming it was a final resort after negotiations failed.

The company is the flagship unit of South Korea’s Samsung Group, the largest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

It recently forecast a 15-fold increase in its second-quarter operating profitability over the previous year, owing to rising demand for generative AI.

Semiconductors are the lifeblood of the global economy, with applications ranging from kitchen appliances and mobile phones to automobiles and weapons.

Demand for advanced semiconductors that power artificial intelligence systems has soared as a result of the success of ChatGPT and other generative AI solutions.

Semiconductors are South Korea’s top export, reaching $11.7 billion in March, their highest level in nearly two years, accounting for one-fifth of overall exports, according to trade ministry data.

AFP

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