SEOUL -- The union of Hyundai Motor Co. will strike for four days from Friday as part of industrial action coordinated by an umbrella labor group, a Hyundai union official said on Tuesday.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the country's second-largest labor group with 620,000 members, has called on member unions to join a planned strike to protest against proposed revisions to the country's labor laws that would allow companies to hire more temporary workers.
The union of Hyundai Motor, KCTU's most powerful member, also supports the umbrella group's opposition to government moves to sign a free trade agreement with Japan.
There are fears the agreement could help rival Japanese carmakers gain a larger foothold in the domestic auto market.
"We will strike for a full day on Nov. 26 and Nov. 29 and will skip all weekend duties Nov. 27 to 28 as well," said the official. "Future strike plans would depend on how aggressively the KCTU is pressing ahead with its strike."
Hyundai Motor's 42,000-strong union, which has often been at the forefront of South Korean labor disputes, voted for strike action backed by 60 percent of union members.
Analysts say poor labor relations are one of the main hurdles in the way of Hyundai Motor's goal of becoming a global top five auto maker by 2010.
Labor strife is also a key deterrent to doing business in South Korea, foreign investors say, and part of the reason for the relatively low value of local shares, known as the "Korea Discount."
In early July, Hyundai Motor wrapped up one of its quickest pay settlements since 1995 by agreeing a pay rise of just over 6 percent after a five-day strike.
Unionized railway workers also plan a walkout as part of the wider action against the government's new labor laws.
The Korean Railway Workers' Union, which is also a member of the KTCU, said it would stage a strike on Dec. 3.
The union is also protesting against privatization steps and pushing for management to follow through on what it said was a previous agreement to hire 6,500 additional workers.
A union leader said the group would continue to talk to management in a bid to avert industrial action.
A strike by public workers was called off last Wednesday after the government threatened to dismiss strikers and the action appeared to get little public support.