According to the Financial Times, at Samsung Electronics’ research center in Hwaseong, union activists are rallying staff to join their campaign for higher wages. The National Samsung Electronics Union, comprising around 10,000 members, is demanding a 6% pay increase while the company is only offering 4%. Unless the chairman, Lee Jae-yong, engages in negotiations, the union is threatening to stage the first-ever strike at Samsung. This comes at a challenging time for the company, which has recently posted a record loss of $3.4bn in its chip division due to an industry slump and the US-China tech rivalry.
The Samsung standoff happens against the backdrop of a broader crackdown on trade unions by South Korea’s conservative president, Yoon Suk Yeol. The labor union, representing about 9% of Samsung’s domestic workforce, has held more than 20 meetings with company officials, but to no avail. As a consequence, they have called upon the chairman to engage in discussions. However, they have not set a deadline for his response. If no negotiations occur, they plan to put the strike proposal to a vote.