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Finance industry union votes for strike


By Lee Minji

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- Tens of thousands of unionized South Korean financial workers on Tuesday voted to go on strike next month to protest what they called government interference in the local finance sector.

About 100,000 union members from 37 financial companies took part in the vote, with 91 percent of them endorsing the strike scheduled for Sept. 3, their umbrella union Korea Financial Industry Union said in a news release.

Ahead of the planned strike, union members plan to hold a protest rally at Yeouido, the country's key financial district, on Wednesday, it said.

The union said it plans to address several issues during the strike, such as the government's push to slim down welfare and benefits at state-run financial firms and the appointment of high-ranking government officials to run such state-run financial firms.

Other issues include an early integration of two Hana Financial Group affiliates -- Hana Bank and Korea Exchange Bank -- that have faced adamant opposition from the latter's labor union.

The decision comes despite the government's request to cancel the strike. Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan met with union leaders and asked them to refrain from the strike, citing potential economic losses.

If the strike takes place, it would be the union's first in 14 years. Some 65,000 union members went on strike in July 2000 to protest against government-led industry mergers.

An attempt for a strike in 2012 fell through at the last minute despite a consenting vote of 91.3 percent because two major units of the union couldn't actively participate in the strike.

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