Salem Radio Network News Sunday, August 7, 2022

World

South Korea shipyard workers willing to end strike if lawsuits dropped

By Byungwook Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – Contract shipyard workers striking at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) are willing to end their strike and accept a wage increase offered by the company if lawsuits seeking damages from the strikers are dropped, a union official representing the strikers told Reuters on Thursday.

About 100 workers for subcontracting companies have occupied DSME’s main dock in the south coast city of Geoje since last month demanding a 30% pay increase, causing delays to deliveries of new vessels.

In recent negotiations, strikers said they lowered their demands to a gradual increase of 15%, while DSME is holding firm at its offer of a 4.5% rise.

Companies contracted to DSME and the strikers continued talks for more than 12 hours on Wednesday but failed to reach an agreement, as damage compensation demanded by the company and its subcontracting firms for losses due to the strike emerged as a key sticking point, according to the Korea Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU), which represents the strikers.

“Strikers expressed their intention to accept the 4.5% wage hike offer if the issue regarding damage compensation lawsuits is resolved,” said Jang Seok-won, director of public relations at the KMWU.

The subcontracting companies had seemed willing to consider dropping the lawsuits seeking damages but subsequently changed their stance, the union official added. DSME, which participated in previous negotiations, did not attend the Wednesday talks between subcontracting companies and the workers.

A DSME spokesperson declined to comment on details of the negotiations.

The union is scheduled to hold a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Thursday morning urged the contract shipyard workers to end the strike, which the government has said violates South Korea’s union laws.

“Illegal actions should be resolved swiftly and normalised … for everyone’s good,” Yoon told reporters in Seoul.

South Korea’s third-biggest shipbuilder said the dispute had cost it more than $400 million as of mid-July.

The construction of eight vessels at five docks at the shipyard is being hampered, with delivery dates pushed back by two to five weeks as of Wednesday, the DSME spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Byungwook Kim; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Edmund Klamann)

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