South Korean Samsung union strikes again in bid to chip away at production

It'd be a shame if something happened to that HBM fab, warns NSEU

Unionized Samsung workers in South Korea have extended their three-day strike indefinitely, claiming that company leadership refused to listen to demands when an end date was on the table.

The National Samsung Electronics Labor Union (NSEU) announced its intention to extend the strike in posts to its website today, reiterating demands for a 3.5 percent base-up pay raise, improved performance bonuses, and compensation for pay lost due to strike participation.

"The [NSEU] confirmed that [Samsung] has no intention of dialogue even after the first general strike," the union said in a Korean statement machine translated by The Register.

"We have confirmed that there will be a clear line production disruption, and the company will regret this decision," the NSEU added. "The longer the strike lasts, the more blood the company will have and the more it will eventually bend its knees and come to the negotiating table. We are confident of victory."

This ain't your ajumma's NSEU

The NSEU's strike marks the first such general action taken against Samsung in its 55-year history, but so far its actions haven't been the most effective.

NSEU workers staged their very first strike in June, but started it the day after South Korea's memorial day, which many people take off and for which NSEU members encouraged employees to use a vacation day, à la a sick out. 

The second strike, which began last week, was similarly dismissed by Samsung officials, who said it didn't disrupt production. Whether that will still be the case as the strike goes on is unclear.

While exact membership numbers in the NSEU have been subject to debate, local news sources indicate that the union, Samsung's largest, has around 30,000 members. If accurate, NSEU members would make up around a quarter of Samsung's workforce in the country.

Union officials previously said around 6,500 workers joined the three-day strike, and said that an organizing meeting over the weekend had encouraged remaining members to "no longer hesitate" to join the action.

Around 80 percent of NSEU members work in Samsung's chip manufacturing division, according to the Korea Times, which makes threats to disrupt production more than just an empty promise.

The NSEU said it plans to start with disruptions to Samsung's 8-inch wafer and high-bandwidth memory lines, both of which are commonly used in high-end AI chips. "Afterwards, we will discuss and decide on a strategic location for our activities," the union said.

"Samsung Electronics will ensure no disruptions occur in the production lines," the megacorp told us. "The company remains committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the union."

The union urged members not to tire, not to go to work, and not to report their participation in the strike to Samsung until the affair concludes to prevent the company from bringing in strikebreakers.

"A total strike victory cannot be achieved without the unity of our union members," the NSEU said. "Let us work together to protect our rights and create a better future."

We've asked the NSEU to comment. ®

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