Samsung Electronics Employee Union Stages One-Day Walkout

The National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU), representing around 28,000 members, or 22 percent of Samsung’s workforce, is set to halt work for a day as part of a broader protest. It is believed that Samsung will not increase their wage in the wake of the strike.

Samsung job strike
@Yonhap

Despite the walkout, there will be no disruption in Samsung’s production of DRAM and NAND Flash memory chips, market research firm TrendForce predicts. The strike falls on a Friday between a public holiday and the weekend, and Samsung’s semiconductor factories are highly automated.

Samsung Electronics, the leading smartphone maker, has not had a strike since its founding in 1969. Samsung Electronics has 125,000 employees. The NSEU is the biggest labor union in Samsung Electronics, Yonhap news report said.

TrendForce noted that the majority of strikers are based at Samsung’s headquarters in Seoul rather than at production facilities. The planned one-day strike, coinciding with a day when many employees had already requested leave, is expected to have minimal impact on production due to the high level of automation.

In recent weeks, workers have intermittently protested outside Samsung’s offices in Seoul and its chip production site in Hwaseong. The union’s discontent stems from a company decision to increase wages by 5.1 percent this year.

The union is demanding an additional day of annual leave and more transparent performance-based bonuses. Samsung Electronics has stated it is willing to engage in discussions with the union.

NSEU claims the June 7 action will affect all company sites across South Korea. However, a coalition of five unions at Samsung affiliates, including a smaller Samsung Electronics union, has questioned the strike’s intent and indicated they will not participate.

Union membership at Samsung Electronics has surged since the company pledged in 2020 to cease discouraging organized labor.

Industry insiders believe that Samsung is grappling with internal and external challenges at a critical time when it should be focusing on enhancing its competitiveness in the key semiconductor business amid a rapidly changing business environment.

This intensifying management-labor dispute coincides with rising concerns over Samsung Electronics’ struggles in the semiconductor sector.

Last year, Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest chipmaker, posted an annual loss of 15 trillion won (US$11 billion) from its semiconductor business alone.