Samsung Electronics Workers Go on Strike For the First Time

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Key Takeaways

  • Workers at Samsung Electronics went on strike today for the first time in the company’s 55-year history.
  • The National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) called for the one-day strike over pay bonuses and time off.
  • It's not great timing for Samsung following losses in its chipmaking division last year.

Samsung Electronics workers in South Korea went on a one-day strike over pay bonuses and time off, with the NSEU calling for the strike when negotiations over pay bonuses and time off reached an impasse.

Lee Hyun Kuk, vice president of the NSEU said union workers didn’t receive bonuses last year — in the past, bonuses had been as much as 30% of salaries.

Most striking workers are reportedly employed in the company’s chip division, though the strike falling between a national holiday in South Korea and the weekend means chip production is unlikely to be affected.

The NSEU, the largest of Samsung’s unions, has over 28,000 members, making up over one-fifth of the company’s workforce. We don’t know how many workers participated in the strike, but almost 75% of the NSEU voted in favor of strike action back in April, according to The New York Times.

This strike isn’t great timing for Samsung as it works hard to keep up with demand and face off against competitors during the current AI boom, which has seen increased demand for the high-bandwidth memory chips needed to power next-gen generative AI features. 

According to Bloomberg, Samsung’s chipmaking division reported an $11 billion loss last year as the company saw a 15-year low in operating profits, partly due to its inability to handle rising demand.

Workers in the chip division are expected to resume normal hours next week as Samsung reportedly tries to reach an agreement with the union, but further action is possible should management refuse to negotiate.