South Korean Hyundai autoworkers gain higher wages and fewer working hours 2012

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Timing
Time Period:  
Time period notes: 
Negotiations between Hyundai Motor Company and its union began in May 2012, and broke down in late June.
12th July
2012
to
4th September
2012
Location and Goals
Country: 
South Korea
Location City/State/Province: 
Ulsan
Location Description: 
Strikes took place nationwide in
Goals: 
Increase in wages, elimination of overnight shifts, hiring of all temporary workers as permanent workers.
 

On 10 May 2012, Hyundai Motor Company and its union in South Korea began negotiating the terms of a new labour contract. Among other demands, the union demanded higher wages, an end to overnight shifts, and transition of all temporary workers to permanent positions. Negotiations stalled in the following months and finally collapsed on 28 June. Hyundai Motor company union subsequently called for a vote on holding strikes, and confirmed these plans on the 4 July, with an approval of 82.1% of its voting members.
The Hyundai Motor Company union began its strike on 13 July 2012, ending its three-year record of uninterrupted work. The union held limited strikes lasting for four hours from 1pm till 4pm. Night shift workers conducted strikes for 2 hours from 2am till 4am, and temporary workers also joined in with 4 hour strikes. The union members rallied in front of the car-making factory in Ulsan, singing and waving banners demanding that the company accede to their terms. Hyundai Motor Company denounced the strikes as counter-productive and warned that, given the weak economic environment due to the failing euro, the union strikes would only serve to damage the auto-industry, and the economic welfare of the workers themselves.
The union re-entered negotiations with the company, and in the meanwhile, continued to hold strikes. Union members refused to work overtime on 25 July and conducted strikes for 2 hours on the 26 and 27, causing production loss of 14,058 vehicles.
On 9 August, the union and the company resumed negotiations. The union timed strikes to begin with the negotiations, holding series of limited strikes from that date. Union members staged walkouts for 3 hours on the 8, 9, and 10 of August, and for 4 hours on the 13 and 14 of August. In addition, union members refused to work overtime on 11, 12, and 15 of August, and conducted a 2-hour strike on the 16 August. The Hyundai Motor Company temporary workers’ union held a one-day strike on the 16 August protesting the hiring of strikebreakers.
Negotiations between the union and the company stalled when the temporary workers’ union blocked the entrance to the meeting venue. Hyundai Motor Company union considered delaying the debate around the transition of temporary workers to permanent positions to a later date and the temporary workers’ union staged a lie-in to protest. The Hyundai Motor Company and its union could only meet from the 20 August. During this time, the temporary workers’ union reported cases of kidnapping and beating against its leaders. Indeed, the union members caught some of the perpetrators and identified them as Hyundai Motor Company security officials. The company denied involvement in the matter, and the union held press conferences to complain about the violence.
Union members gained some public support after Ewha Womans University and Seoul National University Student Associations both declared solidarity with temporary workers. They declared that they “fully supported the fight towards transition of all temporary workers to permanent positions.” The union held a 4-hour strike on 28 August, and escalated the conflict by holding 6-hour strikes on 29, and 30 August. Negotiations again stalled after the temporary workers’ union blocked the entrance to the meeting hall from 29 to 30 August.
The union and the company entered final phases of negotiations during the end of August and no strikes were held in that period. On the 4 September, the union declared it accepted the terms of the company, with 52.7% of its voting members in accordance. The final agreements contained increases in wages and an end to overnight shifts. Issues surrounding the temporary workers were to be debated at a later date. The temporary workers’ union protested strongly against these final arrangements through further rallies, but to no avail. The 2012 strike was the costliest strike in Hyundai Motor Company’s history, and incurred the loss of 79,362 vehicles in production.

Research Notes
Influences: 

Hyundai Motor Company union is known for its militant character. It has conducted strikes every year since its founding in 1987 to 2008 (1).

South Korea was embroiled in many other labour disputes, including those in the auto industry such as Kia Motors and General Motors. Conclusion of the Hyundai Motor Company dispute contributed positively to these negotiations (2).

Sources: 
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Anon. 2012. “현대차 4년만에 파업2차 투쟁도 예고.” (Hyundai Motors union warn subsequent strike following strike ending 4-year rest) NaverNews. Retrieved March 29, 2015 (http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=102&oid=001&aid=0005696580).

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Kim, HyungOok. 2012. “현대차 임협 완전타결 조합원 투표 52.7% 찬성 가결.” (Hyundai Motors union vote 52.7% in favour of final agreement) edaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 (http://web.archive.org/web/20150330041741/http://www.edaily.co.kr/news/NewsRead.edy?SCD=JC11&newsid=01111926599656840&DCD=A00301&OutLnkChk=Y).

Kim, Rose. 2012. “Hyundai Motor, Workers Agree to End Costliest Strike.” Bloomberg.com. Retrieved March 30, 2015 (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-09-03/hyundai-motor-union-agree-to-end-carmaker-s-costliest-strike).

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Park, Sukchul. 2012. “"현대차, 또 비정규직노조 간부 폭행" 주장 파문 확산.” (Further rumours of Hyundai Motors Company’s use of violence against union leaders) Ohmynews. Retrieved March 30, 2015 (http://web.archive.org/save/http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/View/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0001769204).

Park, Sukchul. 2012. “밤샘노동 사라지는 현대차 노조 현장조직은 '반발'.” (End of overnight shifts - Hyundai Motors labour strikes site see ‘resistance’)Ohmynews. Retrieved March 30, 2015 (http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/View/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0001774954).

Park, Sukchul. 2012. “현대차 비정규직 노조, '전면파업' 돌입.” (Hyundai Motors temporary workers’ union go into ‘all-out’ strike) Ohmynews. Retrieved March 30, 2015 (http://web.archive.org/save/http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/View/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0001768243).

Park, Sukchul. 2012. “서울대 총학 "현대차 3천명 정규직 채용, 대국민 사기극".” (Seoul National University Student Association denounce the hiring of 3000 temporary workers as permanent workers as ‘national facade’)Ohmynews. Retrieved March 30, 2015 (http://web.archive.org/web/20150330041125/http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/View/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0001770351).

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Song, Jung-a. 2012. “Hyundai Union Gives 'all out Strike' Warning.” NewsBank. Retrieved March 30, 2015 (http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/140E12DE4037B9A0?p=AWNB).

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Additional Notes: 
Temporary workers' union blocked a meeting between Hyundai Motor Co. and the Hyundai Motor Co. union between 17th and 20th of August, and 29th and 30th of August in disagreement over terms of negotiations.
Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Dong Shin You, 29/03/2015