Workers at South Korea's Big Three May Strike

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By MarEx 2016-06-19 21:29:43

On Friday, workers at Hyundai Heavy Industries said that they may strike alongside the unions at Samsung Heavy Industries and at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering. 

With possible labor actions pending at all of South Korea's Big Three shipbuilders, government and shareholder proposals for restructuring may become more difficult. 

"The company brought us a list of employee benefits to be terminated from July without any prior discussion with the union," an HHI union spokesman told Korea Joongang Daily. 

SHI workers also announced a strike earlier this week following the announcement of an early retirement program. 

Early last week, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye called for "bone-crushing" overhauls of Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering and Samsung Heavy Industries. 

"The [shipbuilding] companies, along with creditor banks, should make bone-crushing efforts to revive their businesses," she said in a speech to parliament. "If we don't carry out a bold restructuring by downsizing the overgrown workforce and cutting costs, the future of not only the shipbuilders but also the whole economy will be in jeopardy."

Shortly after her speech, 85 percent of workers at troubled DSME voted to strike. 

Separately, an ongoing investigation into alleged improper accounting practices at DSME has extended its reach back to 2006, covering some 500 transactions under the leadership of two prior CEOs. On Sunday investigators leaked news to the Korea Herald of a larger and more prolonged accounting problem at the world's largest shipbuilder than previously thought. The new irregularities are said to amount to billions of dollars over and above previously announced amounts. Additionally, the new findings suggest that losses in 2013-2014 were even larger than previously supposed, officials said.