Hyundai Motor union stages 10th partial strike

SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- Unionized workers of South Korea's largest carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. went on a partial strike Thursday as their leaders began a new round of negotiations with management to work out differences over a wage deal.

The two sides are at odds over the union's demand that the company withdraw a compensation suit against two union officials accused of halting an assembly line in Ulsan in April in protest of a deal on weekend work.

A district court in Ulsan ruled last week that the two union officials must pay 300 million won (US$273,000) to the company. A company official said the management has no plan to withdraw its suit. He asked not to be identified, citing policy.

Ulsan is home to Hyundai's main production facility, located some 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

The latest walkout marked the 10th time that Hyundai's 46,000 unionized workers have downed their tools since mid-August.

The union's demand calls for, among other things, a special bonus amounting to 30 percent of the company's net profit last year, which was 9 trillion won.

The union is also asking for a hike of 130,000 won in basic pay and a one-year extension of the retirement age to 61, as well as an allowance of 10 million won each for workers' children who choose to seek employment instead of going to college.

Currently, the carmaker provides full tuition to three children of each union member for their high school and college education.

Separately, Kia Motors Corp. also held a fresh round of negotiations with its union to try to work out differences, the company official said, without elaborating.

Kia union calls for a similar pay hike and other benefits. About 30,000 union members plan to walk off the job for several hours on Friday.

Hyundai and its smaller sister company Kia, which together form the world's fifth-largest automaker, have long been plagued by labor disputes.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>