SEOUL, South Korea (July 8, 2008) — Kumho Tire Co. said it is losing $2.86 million a day because of partial strikes by trade unions in South Korea that began July 2.
The strikes are mainly related to ongoing wage negotiations, but also are connected with protests against the South Korean government.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions has organized the strikes against the government. The unions of Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. have participated in the walkouts, which are in support of large protests against the government that have been occurring for about two months.
The actions were sparked by the government's decision to resume imports of American beef. Many Koreans have claimed the meat is unsafe and poses a risk of carrying mad cow disease.
“Our unionized workers are affiliated with the KCTU, so the anti-U.S. beef element is involved, but that is not the core reason for the partial strike,” a Kumho spokesperson said. “That's just a political view the umbrella union is highlighting, and our unionized workers are simply members of the KCTU.”
The strikes are taking place four hours a day. No deadline for the strikes to end has been set, a Kumho spokesman said.
The union at South Korea's other major tire maker, Hankook Tire Co., is not on strike.