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Workers at South Korea's Kia Motors strike for higher wages

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Unionized workers at Kia Motors Corp. on Tuesday began the first of two strikes planned for this week in a bid for higher wages, the company's union said.

``We will down tools for eight hours a day on Tuesday and Friday,'' said Jeung Hung-Ho, a union spokesman.

Workers at Kia, which is 38.6 per cent owned by Hyundai Motor Co., asked for an 8.9 per cent annual increase in basic pay, up from the previous year's 5.7 per cent gain, said Kang Hyun-geun, a company spokesman.

They also want the company to pay a special bonus equivalent to two months' salary.

Jeung said the union will hold negotiations with company officials on Wednesday and Thursday.

If no agreement is reached during those talks, further strikes will be held at Kia's three domestic plants, Jeung said.

Tuesday's strike would cause production losses of 1,900 vehicles valued at 28 billion won ($30.5 million), said Kang.

Hyundai Motor is the world's sixth-largest automaker. Kia is the country's second-largest carmaker after Hyundai.

Both are expanding aggressively overseas. Hyundai has a factory in Alabama in the United States, while Kia is building one in neighbouring Georgia.

Labour unrest at the companies is frequent. Hyundai's union has gone on strike every year but one since it was formed in 1987.

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Workers at South Korea's Kia Motors strike for higher wages
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