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The Nationwide Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) in South Korea has called for a one-day strike of its 28,000 members to take place on June 7 due to failed negotiations over pay and bonus arrangements. The union, representing a quarter of the company’s workforce in the country, is fighting for transparent and fair performance bonuses and wage increases. The union leader, Son Woomok, stated that there has never been a proper wage negotiation and the outcomes are always presented to the labor-management council without the union’s involvement.

Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest memory chipmaker, has faced challenges in recent years, including a historic shortage of computer chips during the Covid pandemic followed by falling demand due to weak consumer appetite for electronics. In 2023, Samsung reported its weakest annual performance since 2009 with an operating profit of 6.567 trillion won (approximately $4.8 billion). Despite this, the company is optimistic about a resurgence in demand for mobile devices, particularly with the launch of new products like AI-powered smartphones. Samsung competes with Intel and Taiwan’s TSMC in the high-end chip market.

A Samsung spokesperson stated that the company is committed to engaging in good faith negotiations with the union and is making efforts to reach an agreement. The strike at Samsung, one of the largest smartphone and chipmaking companies globally, marks the first such walkout at the company. The NSEU is determined to fight for workers’ rights and interests, emphasizing the need for fair negotiations. The union’s decision to strike comes as a result of the company’s lack of willingness to negotiate on pay and bonus issues.

Samsung’s troubles have been compounded by the loss of its top smartphone maker position and challenges in the semiconductor market. However, the company is hopeful about its future prospects, particularly with the growth of artificial intelligence technology. The company reported a significant increase in first-quarter operating profit, driven by forecasts of high demand for AI and high-end chips. Samsung is competing with industry leaders in Taiwan and is working to challenge Taiwan’s dominance in the advanced microchip market.

The strike at Samsung highlights the ongoing challenges faced by workers in the tech industry, particularly in terms of fair pay and transparent negotiations. The NSEU’s decision to strike demonstrates the importance of workers’ rights and interests in one of South Korea’s largest corporations. Samsung’s commitment to good faith negotiations shows a willingness to address the concerns raised by the union. As the company navigates the changing landscape of the semiconductor and smartphone markets, its focus on AI technology and high-end chip production will be crucial to its future success.

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