Samsung union launches ‘indefinite strike’

Members of Samsung’s largest labor union have walked off the job indefinitely as talks have broken down over pay and bonuses.

The strike by the National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) could ultimately take 31,000 workers, nearly a quarter of the company’s South Korean workforce, out of the workplace, though the current number of people who have walked off the job is much smaller.

Roughly 6,000 workers struck the company beginning on Monday, but were expected to return to work on Thursday. The NSEU, however, says the company has been unwilling to negotiate a growing dispute over compensation, so it has made the walkout an open-ended one. The union did not say how many members would take place in the indefinite strike, but conceded to Reuters it did not have enough time to educate members about the labor issues.

In addition to higher salaries, the union is seeking an extra day of annual leave for union workers and changes to the employee bonus system.

Samsung says there have been no production disruptions due to the labor stoppage, adding it “remains committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the union” in a statement. The union, on its website, said it was “confident of our victory.”

Even if all of the NSEU’s members join the strike, something that is far from certain, that represents a fraction of the company’s global workforce. Samsung employs more than 267,000 people around the world, with 120,000 in South Korea alone.

Labor actions are a new thing for Samsung, which activists have long accused of union-busting. A one-day walkout in June was the first labor strike the company has experienced.

The announcement of the NSEU strike case comes as Samsung held its latest Unpacked event in Paris, which saw the unveiling of the Galaxy Ring health-tracking device, a new generation of Galaxy Z folding phones, and a new line of Galaxy smart watches, including a new Ultra model.

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