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Samsung’s chip workers on verge of all-out strike

On June 7, Samsung workers in South Korea embarked on their first-ever strike, organized by the Nationwide Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU). This historic event involved approximately 28,000 union members, representing about one-fifth of Samsung’s workforce in South Korea.

The strike targeted Samsung’s chip division, which manufactures a variety of critical components such as RAM, NAND flash chips, USB sticks, SD cards, Exynos processors, camera sensors, modems, NFC chips, and power/display controllers.

The action highlighted deep-seated issues surrounding unionization within Samsung, marking a significant shift in the company’s labor dynamics. Throughout the strike, union members posted visible notices on Samsung facility doors, outlining their grievances and demands.

Lee Hyun-kuk, vice president of the National Samsung Electronics Union, described this action as “largely symbolic, but it’s a beginning.” He emphasized that the union has contingency plans for subsequent strikes if management does not address its grievances. Lee further stated that the possibility of an all-out general strike remains on the table, underscoring the union’s determination to press for their demands.

The union is pushing for a 6.5% salary hike, in contrast to the company’s proposed 5.1% raise, as well as an additional day of annual leave and a more transparent approach to calculating bonuses. Bonuses are particularly important because they make up a significant part of employees’ pay.

In 2023, the method for calculating bonuses, which takes into account both operating profit and cost of capital, resulted in no bonuses being paid to workers. The union argues that bonuses should be based solely on operating profit. Samsung’s chip division