Hyundai, Kia workers to go on strike for the first time in 4 years image

South Korean workers at Hyundai Motor Company will go on strike for the first time in four years following unsuccesful negotiations with the management over working conditions.

The union plans to hold an eight-hour strike on Friday and will decide its next steps on Monday, a spokesman announced today.

Workers at Hyundai will be joined on Friday by their colleagues working for sister company Kia Motors. Even General Motors’ South Korean factories are facing similar problems, as workers have already launched a partial strike on Tuesday.

The workers’ most important demand is to scrap overnight work, a proposal automakers are not very keen to accept. The companies fear this would lead to production losses. The Hyundai strike brings back unpleasant memories for the management, which for the last three years avoided work conflicts.

Before 2009, Hyundai experienced production stoppages every year for about two decades except for 1994. In 2008 alone, Hyundai lost production of 44,645 vehicles worth over $600 million after workers went on a 12-day strike.

Hyundai Motor shares lost 1.1 percent on Wednesday prior to the union’s vote results and have lost 16 percent of their value since April 30, when the reached a record level.