SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) -- Unionists at Citibank Korea Inc., a local unit of U.S.-based Citigroup Inc., said Friday they are ready to go on strike to protest branch closures and restructuring plans by the bank management.
The 3,200-member union voted earlier this week in favor of a walkout in an overwhelming majority of 91.6 percent. Their strike would be the first at a local bank in three years since the strike at the Standard Chartered Bank Korea in 2011 when unionists protested the introduction of a performance-based management system.
The Citibank Korea union is waiting for the results of mediation by the National Labor Relations Commission, a prerequisite before a union can start a strike.
"The bank is only focusing on restructuring. They have no intention to negotiate with us," said union spokesman Cho Sung-gil. "We won't be ending the protest quickly. We know how to get what we want."
If the commission's mediation fails, the union says it will follow a three-step plan for at least six months before a full walkout. The steps could include a work slowdown and leave of absence.
Citibank Korea had announced it will close or consolidate its branches across the country by 30 percent from 190 to 134 in a bid to shore up its falling profitability. The lender also said it will focus on wealthy customers in Seoul and other major cities such as Busan.
Citibank Korea logged a net profit of 219 billion won (US$208 million) last year, down 8.1 percent from a year earlier, mainly due to a fall in interest income and increased loan-loss reserves.
Cho, the union spokesman, argued that the closure of branches will lead to a massive dismissal.
"We will do our best to solve the conflict through dialogue, and we have no plan to file a compensation suit against the union or carry out a replacement of workers," the bank management said in a statement. "We will provide full customer service and reduce any inconveniences even after the union goes on strike."
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