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Korean workers reach ground-breaking agreement at Hyundai

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5 September, 2012Members of the Korean Metal Workers’ Union voted to accept a new agreement at Hyundai Motors that secures a 5.4 per cent increase in basic wages and an end to night shifts starting in March next year.

The 44,000 union members at Hyundai voted 53 per cent in favour of the agreement after months of struggle by the union including partial strikes since July.

Representing a major victory for the workers, the agreement will also see an end to night shifts from March next year. According to the newly reached agreement, night shifts starting at 21:00 and finishing at 08:00 will be replaced with two day time shifts of which the latest will finish by 01:10.

Working at night, combined with long working hours – the longest seen in any OECD country, is resulting in many workers suffering from musculoskeletal disorders, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders and poor family lives.

An estimated one million workers are doing overnight shifts in Korea and Hyundai is the first Korean car company to abolish them. This decision is expected to influence the situation across the industry, including at Kia Motors where KMWU is currently on strike in support of reaching a similar agreement.

Having reached this wage agreement, KMWU will now continue to fight for the company to give permanent positions to about 13,000 contract workers.