Hyundai Motor Co. employees walked off the job Monday, commencing a series of planned strikes and partial strikes against the South Korean automaker.
The factories that are affected by the strike account for nearly 40 percent of the company’s global output, and will disrupt production of a vehicle destined for the U.S. and Asian countries. The strike is the first time workers at Hyundai have walked off the job since 2004.
The union, which represents close to 50,000 workers, plans to hold six-hour strikes throughout the rest of the week, according to Auto News.
“While we are obviously disappointed with any temporary stoppage in production,” a statement from the automaker said, “we still continue to work with our labor union to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”
The strike came after union members rejected a tentative wage deal between union leaders and management. The workers were upset by the small increases in basic pay, bonuses and incentives that the company offered, which were smaller increases than in previous years.
Hyundai management explained that the smaller than usual increases were a result of declining economic conditions. Experts doubt that the world’s fifth largest automaker will achieve its sales target.
Throughout this past summer, employees at Hyundai engaged in a series of partial strikes that led to the loss of about 100,000 cars, according to the company’s own findings. South Korean government officials warned that the strike could cost the nation $1.3 billion in auto exports if the strike lasts for the entire week as planned. The strike affects popular models such as the Tucson and Santa Fe sport-utility vehicles and may lead to a shortage of the SUVs in the U.S.
South Korean Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan urged Hyundai Motor’s union and management to come to an agreement, stating that the strike would, “throw cold water on the exports recovery.”
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