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South Korean Kia union approves tentative labour deal

Kia Motors workers in South Korea have agreed to a freeze in base salary for the first time in 11 years under a preliminary deal with the company after 16 rounds of negotiations, a union official stated on Tuesday.

Instead of an increase in base salary, each unionized worker would get a one-time bonus of 150% of their monthly base pay, and also an incentive worth 1.20 million won ($1,095) and a gift card worth 1.30 million won, the official said.

The automaker also offered to restore a 25-minute overtime pay system which was scrapped in 2017, but it declined proposals to increase the retirement age by five years to 65.

Union members had voted in support of the preliminary labour deal, the union official informed Reuters. The vote came after union negotiators reached a tentative agreement with Kia Motors earlier week.

The union said that about 58.6% of members approved the salary agreement, while about 42.3% declined the terms.

The two sides have had 16 rounds of negotiations since August and employees have staged some partial strikes since November 25, costing the automaker about 30,000 vehicles in lost production, according to analysts’ estimates.

In September, Kia’s bigger affiliate Hyundai Motor and it’s South Korean union approved a tentative wage deal, marking a second consecutive year without a strike.

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