South Korean Shipyard Workers to Go on Joint Strike

Unionized workers at South Korea’s Big Three shipyards – Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), will, together with workers from five other smaller shipyards, go on a joint strike to oppose the recently announced restructuring plans, the Yonhap news agency reports.

The partial 4-hour strike is announced for this Wednesday, and is expected to include up to 30,000 workers.

HHI will also see its unionized workers go on a strike on Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, according to Yonhap. SHI already experienced industrial action last week when the workers carried out a sit-in protest in Seoul over the company’s restructuring plans.

South Korea’s shipbuilding industry has for the last eight years been severely affected by the global financial crisis and rising competition from Chinese shipyards. The Big Three accumulated a combined operating loss of USD 7.4 billion last year alone, with DSME responsible for nearly two thirds of the total loss.

All three major shipyards have recently started with major restructuring plans. DSME received an approval from its creditors to start with the USD 4.47 self-rescue scheme in June. The plan includes the sale of two of the company’s five floating docks.

SHI’s USD 1.27 billion restructuring plan, provisionally approved by the shipyard’s creditors, calls for 1,500 early retirements by the end of the year. The plan also requires the executives to return around 30 percent of their salaries as of July.

The company’s self-rescue plan also proposes the sale of KRW 200 billion (USD 170.7 million) worth of real estate assets, and the sale of the shipbuilder’s stake in Doosan Engine.

HHI plans to implement a USD 3 billion self-rescue plan which includes the sale of its shares of Hyundai Motor and KCC, its stakes in Hyundai Avancis, and certain properties and receivables.

The shipbuilder also plans to make further savings with employee salary cuts and work-sharing.

World Maritime News Staff

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