Hyundai Motor Co. said Saturday its labour union has voted in favour of going on strike amid annual wage negotiations. According to an e-mail from the automaker, 28,243 union members voted in favour of the strike, while 12,544 opposed it. It was not immediately clear, however, when a walkout might begin. Strikes at Hyundai are common. Workers have already walked off the job twice this year. The union has gone on strike every year but one since it was founded in 1987. This year's tensions come at a sensitive time. A Seoul court is set next week to issue a ruling on an appeal by Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo against his three-year prison term for embezzlement. Chung, who is free on bail, is actively running the world's sixth-largest automaker. He was sentenced earlier this year.
The union and management remain far apart despite 10 formal negotiating sessions so far.
The company has offered a 5.4 per cent increase, or $83 more a month in basic salary, while the union is seeking an 8.9 per cent hike. Hyundai has also offered an incentive of three months of pay and a bonus of $1,066 if the company meets annual business targets. The union wants the automaker to pay 30 per cent of its 2007 net profit to union members as bonuses and to raise the retirement age to 60 from 58. According to the e-mail, 40,995 union members, or 91.4 per cent of the total membership of 44,867, cast ballots.