Hyundai workers launch partial strike

Workers at South Korea's top carmaker Hyundai Motor downed tools in a partial strike Tuesday, ahead of a threatened major stoppage to press for better pay and working conditions.

Some 12,000 workers conducted a two-hour strike in the early afternoon at the company's main assembly plant in Ulsan city, with a further 12,000 due to follow suit in the early evening.

Labour unions said the partial stoppage would be repeated on Wednesday, before negotiations resume with management.

Hyundai said Tuesday's partial stoppage would result in a production cut of 2,106 vehicles valued at about 43.5 billion won ($38 million).

Unions at Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Motors had voted on August 14 to launch a strike pending a legally binding period of mediation which typically lasts around 10 days.

Among other demands, the unions want a 130,500 won increase in basic monthly salary for workers and a shared cash payment for members amounting to $2.4 billion -- or 30 percent of last year's net profit at the carmaking group.

Management insists it cannot afford to meet such demands at a time of heightened competition and slowing growth in overseas markets.