Hyundai workers wildcat in South Korea

Hyundai workers in previous strike

Workers at Hyundai (HMC) Ulsan plant in South Korea were on wildcat last week for higher wages.

The following is a report from a contact in Ulsan:

On the 3rd(Mon), there was a kind of wildcat strike in HMC Ulsan plant. HMC Ulsan plant has five final assembly plants. This strike was broken at the 1st plant which has been the militant vanguard in the history of HMC workers' struggle. In each shift(day-night), regular workers go on strike for the last hour of an 8- hour shift. On the day shift 800 workers participated in the strike-assembly, and on the night shift 1,200 workers did. The number of total regular workers in the 1st plant is about more than 3,000, and all of them are union members. Thus two thirds of regular-contract workers participated in the strike-assembly. (The number of casual workers in the 1st plant is less than 800. They did not participate the strike-assembly, even though the product-line was stopped. They were merely scattered.)

The leading group of this strike were the representatives of HMC regular workers' union. Each of them represents about 100 unionists. They stopped the product-line ignoring the legal procedure both in labor-law and the union-statutes.

On the 4th(Tue), the strike was stopped after long debates among the representatives. The militant representatives could not win out over the bureaucratic representatives. But it has not yet ended. There are some possibilities that another wildcat strike will break out sooner or later.

The workers' demand can be summarized as a decent wage now that HMC has reduced production capacity in Korea. The bureaucratic solution is to ask the boss for more production capacity. The militant solution is demanding a decent wage having nothing to do with production capacity.

Members of the recently-formed HMC rank-and-file opposition, uniting for the first time regular and casual workers, played key roles in the strike.

Posted By

Mike Harman
Mar 9 2008 00:34


Attached files


Nov 16 2018 11:58

What do think of about the union opposition with the workers currently on £55,000?

Mike Harman
Nov 16 2018 14:55

Damn when I saw this bumped I had no memory of posting it, turns out it was ten years ago...

From the first article: looks like they're building a new plant at which the wages would be about 50% lower - this won't affect the existing plants and they theoretically could only produce a new model there rather than relocate production. Looks like classic two-tier workforce wedge strategy to me.

Korea Herald wrote:
With Gwangju’s incentives, the average annual wage of workers at the new plant would be around 40 million won ($37,442), approximately half the wage Hyundai’s workers at Ulsan, Asan, and Jeonju plants currently receive.

Nov 16 2018 18:27

I believe strike action is due. Would you treat it like the RMT? Like they earn a lot comparative to those elsewhere, but they seem to be organised; the argument being they help bring wages up. There's also the issue of offshoring high labour costs with China, etc next door.

Jun 6 2019 07:44

There was violence, an occupation and I believe a hostage-taking recently by the aristocratic, nativist union in protest against a merger.

Apparently sometimes during strike season, scabs get themselves beat up so they can later earn a promotion.