Seoul - Unionized workers at Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. staged a full-scale strike on Wednesday to protest a plan to split up the company for a merger with a smaller local shipbuilder. Hundreds of workers started their walkouts near Hyundai Heavy’s office building in Seoul. They were joined by members of the umbrella labor group Korean Metal Workers Union, writes Yonhap news agency.
Remaining workers at the company’s plant in Ulsan, some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, also laid down their tools for four hours, according to the union. The union has been launching four-hour strikes since Thursday to oppose the company’s plan to merge with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.
In March, Hyundai Heavy Industries signed a deal, worth an estimated 2 trillion won (US$1.6 billion), with the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) to buy Daewoo Shipbuilding. The bank is the largest shareholder of Daewoo Shipbuilding, with a controlling 55.7 percent stake in the company. Under the deal, Hyundai Heavy plans to split into two entities, which the labor union claims will lead to massive job cuts. The management recently refuted the claim, saying it will guarantee job security for the workers.