Other Korean yards look on anxiously as HHI braces for strikes

The world’s largest shipbuilder faces a partial strike next week, something that could spread to other yards. South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, already reeling from steep losses, is facing calls to raise salaries from its thousands of workers in Ulsan in the far south of the country.

Unionised workers will launch a three-hour strike on Wednesday and the high-ranking officials of the union will begin a seven-hour strike daily, starting next Friday.

The union members are demanding up to KRW127,560 ($107.44) increase in their monthly base pay, double their special wage for living in rural areas and abolishment of the performance-based pay system. The management has maintained its stance to freeze the pay.

On the back of the oil price slump and its focus on offshore construction, HHI recorded a KRW171bn loss in the second quarter.

Most other Korean large yards have also adopted wage freezes amid declining profits and there is a risk that militant worker actions will spread to other shipbuilders in the coming weeks.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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