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Hyundai union agrees to end strike

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Hyundai Motor Co.'s union decided to end a strike Wednesday after the company agreed to pay full bonus payments, officials said, resolving one of the latest obstacles facing South Korea's largest automaker.

Hyundai agreed to pay the remainder of an agreed bonus of 11/2 months, but only after workers meet production goals to make up for losses incurred from strikes last year and the latest walkouts, according to a deal signed between company and union officials.

Union spokesman Song Hi-sok said the employees would end the partial strikes that began Monday and return to work immediately.

Hyundai said they will try to meet the missed production goals by the end of February.

Before the walkout, unionized workers refused to work overtime from Dec. 28 after they received only one month of bonus pay instead of the promised 11/2 months pay.

Hyundai has said the larger bonus agreement was an incentive to reach the company's 2006 production target, but that the payment was reduced since that goal wasn't reached due to strikes.

Wednesday's agreement provided ``an opportunity to clearly recognize that appropriate remuneration can only come after workers achieve the goals,'' the company said in a statement.

Hyundai stressed the bonus payment was part of a fresh deal and should not be considered as the company paying off the overdue amount.

The agreement came after a series of meetings between company and union officials in Ulsan, 260 miles southeast from Seoul, where Hyundai's main factory is located.

Hyundai, which together with its affiliate Kia Motors Corp., is the world's sixth-largest automaker, suffered its biggest losses ever from strikes in 2006. Four walkouts cost the company 118,293 vehicles in lost production worth $1.75 billion.

The company's labour union has gone on strike every year but one since it was established in 1987.

The fresh row with the union came as the company chairman, Chung Mong-koo, stands trial on charges of illegal raising a slush fund from affiliates from which authorities say he spent US$74 million for private and other purposes, including payments to lobbyists for government favors.

Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded a six-year prison term against Chung, and a verdict is scheduled next month.

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Hyundai union agrees to end strike
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