Hyundai Motor offers to resume wage talks amid strike vote

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The union is demanding performance pay equivalent to eight times the monthly base salary for workers. (AP) The union is demanding performance pay equivalent to eight times the monthly base salary for workers. (AP)
SummaryThe union is demanding performance pay equivalent to eight times the monthly base salary for workers.

Automaker Hyundai Motor Co offered to restart wage talks with its South Korean labour union starting on Friday as workers continued to cast ballots on whether to stage a strike.

Union negotiators plan to decide Wednesday whether to accept the company's offer after the results of the strike vote come out, possibly after midnight on Tuesday, union spokesman Kwon Oh-il told Reuters.

In a letter to the union, the company expressed "deep concerns" about the strike move. A walkout would hurt Hyundai's brand image and production, especially after the company suffered a production loss of 83,030 vehicles because of weekend production stoppages from March to May this year, the company said.

The talks were proposed to start at 2 pm. Friday Korean time.

On August 6, the discussions fell apart over wages and benefits, more than two months after the negotiations kicked off. Hyundai's shares started falling after the impasse and the decline has wiped $1.1 billion off Hyundai's value since then.

The union is demanding performance pay equivalent to eight times the monthly base salary for workers and a one-off payment of $2.45 billion, or 30 percent of the automaker's 2012 net profit, among 180 other demands.

Last year, hardline union chief Moon Yong-moon, whose two-year term expires next month, spearheaded the union's first industrial action in four years, staging a series of partial strikes in July and August and stopping production of more than 82,000 cars worth 1.7 trillion Korean won ($1.53 billion).

South Korea supplies more than 40 percent of the total vehicles made by the world's fifth-biggest automaker along with associate Kia Motors. A drawn-out walkout could disrupt sales not only at home, but also hurt exports to the United States and other countries.

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