Empowering Voices: The Pioneering Strike at SAMSUNG

When Samsung’s largest workers’ organisation, the National Samsung Electronics Union, announced it would hold what would be the tech giant’s first-ever strike, it was met with international coverage. It was a testament to years of organising. The growing powers of workers can stretch towards the skies. These stories of collective action aren’t merely individual corporate disputes. They are the ones workers are willing to fight for.

The Impetus Behind the Strike at SAMSUNG

The fight lines had been drawn after months of intense but fruitless wage negotiations. What was the crux of the problem? The union’s pursuit of a salary increase that would reflect ‘the kind of work they had done’. With more than half of Samsung’s workforce on their side, the union promised a strike. This would come to be one of the major issues in the company’s history.

SAMSUNG's Initial Counteroffer Falls Short

Samsung is reported to have conceded a 5.1 per cent rise in wages this year as part of a wider round of negotiations with the union over added annual leave days and increased transparency about performance bonuses. But this has not been enough to appease it and its members, who say that they are still far from getting a compensation system that truly values their labour.

A Collective Quest for Fairness

Union leaders translated this to a massive crowd in Seoul with magnified brevity: ‘What we want is not 1-2 per cent increase in our wages. What we want is to be paid according to how much we work.’ This insistence on being paid proportionately to one’s efforts signals a hunger not simply for higher pay but for dignity and respect in the corporate scheme.

The Rise of the National SAMSUNG Electronics Union

The National Samsung Electronics Union, which has 28,000 members, represents more than one-fifth of Samsung employees. Union membership has grown since Samsung’s long-standing policy of anti-unionism. The territorial negotiations brought about a new era of relations, but the union insists that the road to real dialogue and reform is far from finished.

Automation and the Impact of the Strike

Even though so much of the manufacturing process relies on automation that a walkout would have little actual effect on Samsung’s production lines, the symbolic and potentially financial impact are not to be overlooked. The strike in South Korea sent a strong message about the importance of the workers in running the company and illustrates that technological advancements cannot replace the value of human labour and advocacy.

Past Shadows and Present Promises

Samsung has long had a tumultuous relationship with organised labour – former leadership was convicted on charges of repressing legal union activities – and the move toward more open and respectful labour-management relations has been a slow process, tempered by a healthy dose of cynicism over the seriousness of corporate promises of change.

The Road Ahead: Continuing the Conversation

As the coming together of the group of contract workers and outsourced workers started, the banner of the National Samsung Electronics Union promised: ‘Nationwide actions will follow!’ ‘[We will] continue to seek common ground through negotiation,’ said the company representative. But whether these pronouncements actually went anywhere – and how far – remains a matter for the union to judge.

SAMSUNG: A Tech Giant in Transition

Samsung, a corporate giant in the tech sector, is likely to be one of the first to come out the other side. How the company handles these discussions will likely set precedents for tech-sector labour relations everywhere. It is another opportunity for Samsung to redefine itself as a company – an opportunity to either affirm itself as a corporate family or reinforce structural divisions.

Understanding SAMSUNG: A Global Leader

Certainly, at the most basic level, it is a producer of consumer electronics. More appropriately, it is a giant among giant tech firms, whose corporate tentacles extend into scores of disparate sectors, from smartphones to semiconductors. However, to make sense of either one, you need to see far beyond the firm’s product line. To make sense of Samsung, you need to see inside its corporate culture, trace its history of growth, and consider how it might respond to the internal challenge it faced from the National Samsung Electronics Union.

Conclusion: A Lesson in Solidarity and Strength

The true story of the National Samsung Electronics Union’s strike against Samsung is a tale of the vibrancy of collective action in the workplace and the steady movement towards a future of fairness, transparency and mutual respect that forms the foundations of a truly robust relationship between employer and employee. As the most radical chapter in the history of the Samsung Corporation continues to evolve, so too does the social memory of the hopes and dreams of the modern labour movement, fuelled by solidarity of the working class.


Samsung, a world leader in technology and innovation, is rightfully proud of its contribution to the electronics industry. From its latest generation of smartphones to its leading home appliances, Samsung products showcase the company’s engineering talents and market acumen. But the Samsung story is deeper than this. It is also a corporate history, filled with trials and the difficulties of growth, as well as a continuing effort to make Samsung a place that cares for its people and treats each of the thousands of members of the Samsung team with dignity.

May 30, 2024
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