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Union at LG Household & Healthcare continues strike for higher pay

2017/11/10 10:06

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SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- A union strike at LG Household & Healthcare entered its 52nd day Friday with no immediate settlement in sight as workers and management struggle to find any middle ground over the issue of salary increases.

Around 400 union members have set up tents outside the company's headquarters in downtown Seoul since Sept. 23, following the start of the strike Sept. 20. The union and the management have held 19 rounds of negotiations during the subsequent period to find a compromise but have not made any progress, officials from the two sides said.

The union members are mostly workers at the company's main production plant in Cheongju, south of Seoul, and duty-free store personnel. Some 380 of 505 employees at the Cheongju factory are in the union, which has affected the plant's operation, the union side said.

The management is offering a 5.25 percent pay raise, higher than the initially proposed 3.1 percent, but the union is demanding an increase of 13.8 percent. The union insists that what the company is really offering is just a 1 percent rise, since 2.1 percent comes from an automatic yearly increase and 2.15 percent from post-settlement adjustments.

This photo of a strikers camp was provided by the union of LG Household & Healthcare. (Yonhap) This photo of a strikers camp was provided by the union of LG Household & Healthcare. (Yonhap)

The union's demand, excluding the automatic raise, would come to an 11.7 percent hike.

Performance bonuses for this year were reduced to 400 percent from 500 percent.

Workers argue that the company has the resources for pay for the raise. LG posted record performance in the third quarter despite bad market conditions from slow local consumption and the loss of Chinese customers due to a Seoul-Beijing diplomatic row. The company, which makes cosmetics and household products, made 253 billion won (US$226.29 million) in operating profit in the July-September months, up 3.5 percent from the previous year. Sales increased 2.9 percent to 1.6 trillion won.

"The company was able to grow because of efforts by the workers. This justifies our demand," Im Jae-seong, a union official, said. "We only hope that the management will engage in negotiations with sincerity."

   LG countered that the company's pay raise proposal is a reasonable one that takes into account national economic growth and inflation. It added that its bonus payments are also at the top level and that the offered 5.25 percent increase is higher than anything given by other companies.