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Renault Samsung workers OK wage deal, ending monthslong dispute

21:52 June 14, 2019

By Choi Kyong-ae

SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) -- Unionized workers at Renault Samsung Motors Corp. voted for a wage deal on Friday, ending a monthslong dispute at the automaker plagued by output losses and helping it secure production volume for exports.

In a vote over the wage deal, 74 percent of Renault Samsung's 2,063 workers cast ballots for the revised wage and collective agreement after the first tentative deal was rejected by the union last month, Renault Samsung said in a statement.

The revised deal includes the "joint declaration for mutual survival" between the company and the union, though no new terms or conditions were added to it, the company said.

"The company originally asked the union to stop staging strikes until the end of 2020 if the union wants renegotiations with the company. As we refused to accept the request, no time frame is included in the declaration," Joo Jae-joung, vice chairman of Renault Samsung's union, said by phone.

The two sides reached the second tentative deal on Wednesday when the union returned to the negotiating table from a weeklong strike at the carmaker's sole Busan plant, 450 kilometers south of Seoul.

Previously, Renault Samsung workers staged 62 rounds of strikes from October through April 19, resulting in estimated production losses of over 14,320 vehicles, according to Renault Samsung.

"The overall strikes cost the company about 300 billion won (US$253 million)," a company spokesman said.

Hit by extended strikes, Renault Samsung's sales plunged 36 percent to 67,158 vehicles in the January-May period from 104,097 units a year earlier.

In the deal, Renault Samsung offered about 12 million won ($10,000) per worker in bonuses for their contributions to the carmaker's performance in 2018 instead of raising the basic salary.

The labor-management agreement comes amid growing concerns about the sharply declining utilization rate of the plant and the fate of the carmaker itself.

Last month, Renault Samsung Chief Executive Dominique Signora expressed concerns, saying, "It is urgent for the company and the union to seal a wage and collective agreement deal in order to secure production volume for the SM3 and the XM3 for export to Europe."

Renault Samsung produces the SM3 compact, the SM5 midsize sedan, the SM6 upper midsize sedan, the SM7 large sedan, the SM3 Z.E. all-electric car and the QM6 SUV. It also produces Nissan Motor Co.'s Rogue SUV on a manufacturing contract. The QM3 compact SUV is built in Spain and shipped to Korea.

Renault S.A. has an 80 percent stake in Renault Samsung.

This photo taken on June 12, 2019 shows an assembly line of Renault Samsung's plant in Busan. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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