Workers are on strike for the first time in history

For the first time since the company’s founding, Samsung workers are on strike. The New York Times reports that Samsung workers in the chip division are expected to make up a majority of the employees skipping work on Friday for the one-day strike. Samsung union representatives explained that negotiations over pay increases and bonuses had broken down.

Samsung has five labor unions, and the largest — the Nationwide Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) — was the one that called for a one-day strike. The NSEU claims to represent 28,000 employees and said that 75% of its members voted for the strike in April.

NSEU Vice President Lee Hyun Kuk told the Times that Samsung “doesn’t value the union as a negotiating partner.” He explained that employees want “to send a message to the management that we have reached a certain level of maturation.”

According to Lee, union workers did not receive any bonuses last year after receiving bonuses representing up to 30% of their salaries in years past. He added that the average union worker earned around 80 million won (~$60,000 USD) in 2023.

The timing of the strike couldn’t be worse for Samsung, as the company’s chip business is under more pressure than ever due to increased competition from global rivals as artificial intelligence explodes. That said, a Samsung representative told the Times reports that the strike won’t affect production schedules. The strike is taking place right after a national holiday, and many people in South Korea take off Friday anyway to extend their weekend.

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