South Korea’s president steps in at DSME as subcontract workers go on hunger strike

Subcontract workers at South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) went on a hunger strike after the government denounced their actions as illegal. President Yoon Suk-yeol called for an end to illegal actions at industrial sites on Monday, which are said to have set DSME back by more than $400m.

A court ordered DSME workers on Friday to vacate the ships at the company’s dry dock at Okpo shipyard on Geoje Island. The court ruled that if the unionised workers do not end their occupation of the dry dock, they must pay DSME KRW3m ($2,280) per day.

Korean media reports Yoon emphasized the importance of establishing the rule of law and ending illegal situations at industrial sites, urging relevant ministers to be more proactive in resolving the strike, given its economic impact.

A wildcat strike by some 150 DSME’s subcontract workers has been ongoing for more than a month after the shipbuilder rejected demands for a 30% wage increase, putting pressure on its already mounting financial losses.

“The longer the strike continues, the more immense the losses will become,” said Lee Chang-yang, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on Monday convened an emergency meeting with five other ministers to discuss measures to cope with the strike.

“The government will have no other choice but to strictly apply the law,” Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said in a statement on Monday, adding: “The shipbuilder is in a desperate situation. It is an irresponsible action that could destroy the trust in the Korean shipbuilding industry.”

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.


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