HMM union puts strike on hold for more negotiations

By Kang Jae-eun
Published : Aug 25, 2021 - 18:53
Updated : Aug 25, 2021 - 19:03

A letter of resignation signed by a HMM sailor, Wednesday. (Sailor Union of HMM)

Unionized sailors at South Korea’s largest shipper HMM have suspended plans for a strike and will hold a new round of wage negotiations with management next week, union representatives said Wednesday.

“The union leaders and the chairman of the land-based workers’ union held talks with HMM’s CEO Bae Jae-hoon the previous day, and as a result we decided to negotiate again on Sept. 1,” HMM’s longshore union said in a press release Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, the union members had voted in favor of a strike, which if materialized, would be HMM’s first in history.

Even as the union decided to put the strike on hold, the members on Wednesday upped the ante in their demands for better pay and working conditions by submitting resignation letters to the company en masse, as they had warned earlier. 

They also applied for the Swiss-based shipping company MSC, which recently has been hiring crew to board their ships.

“The union’s 317 members responsible for 39 ships have signed a resignation letter and submitted their CVs to MSC. Everyone in the union, except for those on vacation and nonunion members, have handed in a resignation letter,” the union said.

HMM’s workers operate 48 ships all together. If union members decide to push ahead with the walkout later on, some 81 percent of ships from HMM will be unmanned.

The sailors’ union claimed raises are long due after having put up with eight years of wage freezes.

A HMM spokesperson told The Korea Herald they do not have any plans yet for next week’s talks with the union, but said they are open to negotiations.

In addition, the land-worker’s union will vote separately on Aug. 30 on whether they would stage a walkout.

By Kang Jae-eun (kang.jaeeun@heraldcorp.com)


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