As Hyundai struggles, its labor union indicates signs of softening

Hyundai Sonata

When employees at South Korea’s Hyundai Motor went on strike during 2017, the stoppage lasted 24 days, triggered months of negotiations and netted them their smallest raise in almost a decade.

This week, after just two days on strike, their significant union agreed to a deal prior the summer holidays, the first time in eight years such has happened.

The agreement gives employees a smaller raise than 2017’s $14,000 in bonuses and wage boosts, union officials stated, refusing to provide details. It had sought a 5.3 percent boost in wages, a request it decreased to 2.1 percent; inflation in South Korea is about 1.9 percent.

Those relatively low gains, and the speed to which they were agreed, are indications that the union may be softening its stance in middle of growing criticism, falling profits, the near bankruptcy of GM Korea and possible U.S. tariffs.

Union members endorsed the deal late Thursday, right before the automaker addressed its second-worst quarterly net profit since 2012.

“We’re fed up with strikes and feeling a crisis too,” a Hyundai employee in its sprawling Ulsan factory complex, the world’s biggest automaking facility, informed Reuters, mentioning GM Korea’s recent wage deal and trade disputes with the US.

This year, General Motors’ South Korean unit closed one of its four plants, cut jobs and agreed with its union to freeze wages, skip bonuses and cut benefits to stem increasing losses.

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