Workers at Hyundai’s car plants in South Korea are staging a second week of strikes this week over pay and conditions.

The company confirmed that up until last Friday, total lost production had reached 23,608 vehicles, equal to 484.6 billion won ($430m). This week’s repeated action could double that figure.

The 44,000-member union staged its first strike in four years last month as annual talks over wages stalled. The union is calling for an 8.4% pay rise, a 30% share of the company’s net profit as a bonus and an extension to the retirement age. Workers are also calling for the end of the overnight shift, which they say constitutes a health hazard.

“It is regrettable that the labour union has decided to go on strike at this critical point in the talks,” said the company in a statement. “This unfortunate action will hurt the workers, Hyundai customers and the company."

A company spokesman said it had no further details to give on the consequences for exports, adding only that it was a “sensitive situation” and it was not in a position to comment.
Hyundai’s affiliate Kia Motors has also been affected by strike action. Last week the company was hit by three four-hour strikes and overtime bans that resulted in the loss of 10,766 vehicles and financial loss estimated to be around 1.8 billion won.

Kia said it deeply regretted the labour union’s decision to go on a strike, especially when during what it felt was a time for a constructive discussion.

“The company is facing very tough economic conditions in both domestic and overseas markets, and the current decision on strike is going to leave us with damage to our operations and confusion amongst our partners and customers,” said a spokesman for the company.

There are as yet no reports of disruption to the shipment of vehicles and it is likely the company has prioritised exports, while the ‘lost’ vehicles will be earmarked against domestic sales.

No announcement has been made regarding plans to recover that lost production.

The spokesman said that further negotiations between the companies and the labour unions is on-going and that a final offer on the dispute is due to be made by the employers.

Elsewhere, strike action had also affected GM Korea recently but the company reached a tentative agreement with its labour union this week that promised a pay increase and better working conditions. Union members are expected to vote on the agreement following Wednesday’s national holiday in South Korea.

Representatives from the company and the labour union agreed to several conditions including a basic monthly wage increase of 92,000 won ($81), an incentive of 3m Won to be paid upon ratification of the agreement, a 5m won performance bonus to be paid at the end of the year, as well as several improvements in the employment structure.

The company and its union have had 25 rounds of wage and collective bargaining negotiations since May 17th but during July partial strike action was responsible for a production loss of about 13,000 vehicles across GM Korea’s plants in Bupyeong, Gunsan and Changwon.