A major part of unionized workers of Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. have voted in favor of striking, over unmet demands including gold medals for long-serving employees and a one-off payment of $2.45 billion from the company’s record 2012 profit.

The strike may begin as soon as Aug. 20, Kim Gi Hyuk, a union spokesman told Bloomberg News.

“Our goal is not a strike,” Kim said, adding that “the company should offer positive proposals if it does not want a disruption” of assembly plants in the country.

However at this moment the workers are not allowed to stop production immediately as they were to meet with managements later in the day as part of the mandatory mediation by a state-run labor body. According to union leaders, 40,537 workers cast their votes with 80.4 percent, or 32,591, agreeing to the proposed walkout. The total number of people who took park in the vote represented 88.07 percent of the 46,027 registered unionists at Hyundai.

Just last year, a strike at the world’s No. 5 automaker led to a 13-day stoppage that prevented the carmaker from producing 82,000 vehicles and costing it 1.7 trillion won (US$1.5 billion) in lost production.

The hourly labor cost for Hyundai’s domestic factories was 24,778 won ($22.26) per worker in 2012, triple the 7,711 won for its China plant and above the 21,422 won average for its U.S. plant, according to Daiwa Securities analyst Chung Sung-yop.


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