Samsung Electronics workers announce ‘indefinite’ strike

Workers at Samsung Electronics have escalated their strike action by declaring an indefinite strike to demand higher wages and improved benefits. The National Samsung Electronics Union, representing thousands of workers, initially launched a temporary three-day strike earlier this week. However, they have now announced an indefinite strike, accusing the company’s management of being uncooperative in negotiations. Samsung Electronics has stated that production has not been affected by the strike and is committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the union. The union, on the other hand, has claimed to have caused disruptions on the company’s production lines in an effort to force management to enter into negotiations.
According to the union statement, they expressed confidence in their victory. However, the statement did not provide any details regarding the number of members participating in the extended strike. In a previous announcement, the union stated that 6,540 of its members had agreed to join the initial three-day strike.

It is important to note that this number represents only a small fraction of Samsung Electronics’ total workforce, which is estimated to be around 267,860 employees globally. Approximately 120,000 of these employees are based in South Korea.

Earlier this year, the union and management engaged in multiple rounds of negotiations concerning the union’s demands for higher wages and improved working conditions. Unfortunately, they were unable to reach an agreement. In June, some union members collectively utilized their annual leave to participate in a one-day walkout, which was reportedly the first labor strike at Samsung Electronics.

Reports indicate that around 30,000 Samsung workers are affiliated with the National Samsung Electronics Union, which is the largest union at the company. Additionally, there are several smaller unions to which some employees belong.
As of 2020, Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung, made a significant announcement stating that he would no longer hinder employees’ efforts to form unions. This decision came as a result of his remorse over his alleged involvement in a major corruption scandal in 2016, which led to the removal of the country’s president from office.

Samsung has faced criticism for its long-standing practice of suppressing unions, with activists raising concerns about this issue for many years. It is worth noting that labor actions, including strikes, are not uncommon in various industries and sectors of South Korean society.

Since February, thousands of medical interns and residents in South Korea have been on strike. Their protest is in response to a government proposal to dramatically increase admissions to medical schools, a plan they vehemently oppose.