Union members at Samsung Electronics

Samsung Electronics Workers Stage Historic Walkout

Seoul, June 7, 2024 – For the first time in its 55-year history, workers at Samsung Electronics in South Korea have gone on strike. The Nationwide Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) announced that many of its 28,000 members participated in the one-day walkout on Friday, marking a significant moment for the tech giant.

The union, which represents nearly a quarter of Samsung’s workforce in South Korea, called for the strike after failed negotiations over pay and bonuses. The walkout coincided with a long weekend, as Friday fell between a public holiday on Thursday and the weekend.

Son Woomok, a union leader, told CNN that numerous employees utilized their annual leave for the strike. “Many employees used their annual leave today,” he said, noting that at one site, “all workers had taken leave so replacement personnel were deployed.” Specific details on participation were not provided.

Son mentioned that many NSEU members are part of Samsung’s flagship semiconductor unit, which is striving to regain its leading position in the semiconductor market. According to Reuters, Samsung has been trailing behind competitors like SK Hynix and Micron Technology in AI processor chip production.

A Samsung spokesperson stated that the strike had no impact on production or management activities. “Today’s annual leave use rate is lower than last year’s Memorial Day holiday’s annual leave use rate,” the spokesperson added.

Samsung, the world’s largest memory chipmaker, has faced several challenging years. A significant shortage of computer chips during the Covid-19 pandemic was followed by a drop in demand as economic uncertainty dampened consumer appetite for electronics.

However, the company is optimistic about a rebound due to the surge in AI technology. Samsung anticipates increased demand for mobile devices and AI-powered smartphones this year. Last month, the company reported a more than tenfold increase in first-quarter operating profit, driven by high demand for AI and high-end chips, competing with industry leaders such as Intel and Taiwan’s TSMC.

South Korea and Taiwan dominate the global advanced microchip market, with South Korea striving to challenge Taiwan’s larger industry.

The unprecedented strike at Samsung Electronics signals a significant shift in labor relations at one of the world’s leading technology companies, as workers seek to assert their rights and improve their working conditions.

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