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Sixteen years of unwavering solidarity of Hyundai/Kia workers

13 October, 2023The global Hyundai/Kia union network meeting in Bekasi Indonesia, marked 16 years of unwavering solidarity of Hyundai/Kia workers across the globe. The meeting took place on the 10 and 11 October. 

Reviewing the history of the global solidarity of Hyundai/Kia workers, the executive director of the international department at the Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU) Chong Hyewon said since the first contact with Turkey’s Metal Workers’ Union (Birleşik Metal-İş) in 2007, the Hyundai/Kia workers have selflessly offered support to each other and went through many great struggles. 

The hunger strike of the Hyundai Motor India Employees' Union (HMIEU) in 2008 triggered a global solidarity action from KMWU and United Auto Workers (UAW). 

Korean and US workers raised funds in support of the strike, the global pressure culminated in the settlement of the hunger strike.    

With the support of the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) and KMWU, the first global Hyundai/Kia union network meeting was held in 2009 in Korea with the participation of KMWU, Slovakia's OZ KOVO, Czech's OS KOVO, India's HMIEU, USA's UAW and Turkey's Birleşik Metal-İş. 

In the following years, the network took the two automotive companies to task on the unfair dismissal of a Korean female worker who encountered sexual harassment at the workplace, exploitative night shift work, graveyard shift and precarious work in the Hyundai/Kia factories, and the repression of local union leaders at Hyundai Czech. 

At the 2023 hybrid global Hyundai/Kia union network meeting, thirty participants unanimously agreed to sustain the network and workers’ solidarity in the future. They appreciated the active role played by KMWU in supporting union struggles and sharing bargaining information. 

“As a newcomer to the Hyundai/Kia workers’ family, we learnt a lot from the network in the last year. The Indonesian labour movement is focusing all of its energy to fight the regressive Omnibus Law. But we will continue to organize more workers to strengthen workers’ power in industries.”

Said Nuryasin, the vice president of the Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers' Union (FSPMI). 

“The collective bargaining information from our Korean brothers and sisters are very valuable, I learnt a lot about good practice through discussion and translation. I hope we can focus on more specific issues such as agency workers and migrant workers in the future.”

Said Martin Cech, the chairman of Kia OZ KOVO. 

“The network should strive to seek a social dialogue with Hyundai/Kia to accomplish the global industrial relations system. IndustriALL will continue to push for global framework agreements with these two companies, at the same time leveraging on human rights due diligence legislation in respective countries.”

Said Georg Leutert, IndustriALL director of automotive and aerospace industries.