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Hyundai Heavy Unionized Workers Staged First All-Out Strike In 23 Years

By February 23, 2017 at 7:32 am
The last all-out strike in Hyundai Heavy was way back in 1994. (Photo : Getty Images)

The collapse of wage negotiations and the planned split of the company's non-shipbuilding business prompted Hyundai Heavy Industries Co.'s labor union leaders to declare an all-out strike Thursday.

Thursday's walkout was the first full-fledged walk out in 23 years, according to management and union officials of the South Korean shipbuilding company. All 15,000 members of the union were urged by their labor union leaders to stage an eight-hour walkout that began at 8 a.m.

The last all-out strike in Hyundai Heavy was way back in 1994. In 2015 and 2016, unionized workers at the company had staged partial walkouts.

Only around 1,500 unionized workers or about 10 percent actually participated in the one-day strike, the labor union said.

Last November, the labor union threatened to launch a full-scale strike to protest Hyundai Heavy's plan to spin off its non-shipbuilding units. Union leaders claim the move will eventually lead to a sell-off.

Hyundai Heavy, one of South Korea's three large shipyards, announced in November a proposal to reorganize its businesses into six new companies in 2017 as its tries to improve its financial health and regain competitiveness.

The decision is part of the firm's self-rescue plan announced last year in which it said it will try to cut jobs and sell noncore assets.

Since May last year, the labor union and company officials have been negotiating a wage deal, but the labor union has staged partial strikes earlier this month as it opposed Hyundai Heavy's early retirement plan and other restructuring actions.

In the January to September period last year, Hyundai Heavy returned to the black with a net profit of 971.19 billion won, compared to a net loss of 985.17 billion won in the same period the year earlier, mainly because of spending cuts.

Hyundai Heavy along with rival local shipbuilders Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Samsung Heavy Industries Co. have been under financial strain, suffering heavy losses as a result of falling new orders and delay in the construction of offshore facilities. 

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