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Samsung Electronics union in South Korea stages first walkout

SEOUL (Reuters) -- A workers' union at Samsung Electronics staged its first walkout on Friday, signaling more assertiveness among employees just as South Korea's most powerful conglomerate races to catch up in chips used in artificial intelligence.

The National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU), whose roughly 28,000 members make up over a fifth of the firm's workforce, said it would stop work for a day to demand better pay.

The walkout is unlikely to immediately impact semiconductor production or shipments but will add pressure on Samsung Electronics as it chases AI and narrows a gap in contract chip manufacturing with Taiwan's TSMC, analysts said.

"The purpose of today's strike action is to have meaningful conversation with management," NSEU official Lee Hyun-kuk told Reuters. He said the union was preparing further action on Friday, without providing details.

Samsung Electronics said there was no impact on production or business activity. The strike fell a day after a public holiday and there were fewer employees on annual leave than on the equivalent day last year, the firm said.

The union did not disclose how many members participated in the strike through annual leave.

"We have sincerely engaged with the union and will continue talks with them," said a company official.

Samsung Electronics' share price closeddown 0.1%, versus a 1.2% rise in the benchmark KOSPI.

The walkout is unlikely to impact DRAM or NAND flash memory production or lead to shipment shortages as manufacturing is highly automated, said market researcher TrendForce.

Moreover, the walkout appears to involve more workers from the firm's Seoul headquarters than in production and was planned for a single day, TrendForce said.

The strike follows other worker