HHI Workers Plan Partial Strike over Retirement Program

Unionized workers at South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries have unveiled their plans to organize a partial strike this week protesting the company’s revised retirement program and possible unpaid leave for idle employees.

Yonhap News Agency cited an undisclosed union official as saying that the workers would stop working at a shipyard in Ulsan for four hours on Wednesday, September 13.

Additionally, some 150 workers are set to travel to Seoul to engage in a protest rally, according to the official.

In late August 2018, HHI’s unionized workers went on a strike opposing the retirement and unpaid leave plans. The plans, proposed as a cost cutting measure, are affecting idle workers from the offshore shipbuilding division of the company.

The industrial actions come on the back of Hyundai Heavy’s efforts to focus on normalizing its businesses amid diminishing shipbuilding orders. Specifically, HHI hasn’t received an order for its offshore division since 2014 amid a downturn in the offshore oil and gas sector.

As a result, the shipbuilder said it would temporarily shut down its offshore shipyard, impacting some 2,400 workers, to save money.

So far, about 80 workers in the offshore division applied for a retirement program, while the company is waiting for a decision on whether it can introduce unpaid leave for idle employees.

Earlier reports suggested that the company is also planning to sell its Onsan factory as part of its cost-cutting measures. The facility used to produce offshore modules and had a workforce of around 1,000 people. However, since the downturn of the offshore oil and gas sector, lack of newbuilding orders has put the facility out of work in 2016.

World Maritime News Staff; Illustration, Image Courtesy: Flickr/SarahTz under CC BY 2.0 license