Unionized financial services workers to strike next month
|Unionized members of the Korea Financial Industry Union hold a street rally in Seoul’s Mapo district in 2016. Korea Times file|
By Lee Kyung-min
Union members of the Korea Financial Industry Union, which encompasses public and commercial lenders, decided to go on strike on September 16, the union said on Sunday.
They say collective action is inevitable unless their demands are met, including: a 6.1% pay rise, a reduction in their working hours to 36 hours a week and the scrapping of shutdown plans. bank branches.
The strike, however, could draw criticism from some, as the demands of office workers with an average annual salary of 100 million won ($74,850) or more could be seen as “selfish” in the eyes of borrowers with rising interest rates. .
Commercial lenders have thrived in recent years on ultra-low rates for mortgages and unsecured loans prompted by emergency expansionary monetary policies.
Financial Monitoring Service data submitted to Representative Kim Jong-min of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, a member of the National Assembly’s National Policy Committee, showed that the leaders of the four commercial lenders in the countries reported a total of 108.3 billion from 2020 to May this year. Bank employees received a bonus three times their base salary.
The four banks recorded total interest income of more than 18.8 trillion won in the first half. The year-over-year increase of 21.4% was supported in part by unsecured lending rates rising to 5% from just 2% over the same period. Mortgage rates fell to 3% from 1% previously.
A union official said yes to the strike stood at 93.4 percent of all members at a meeting on August 19. Members are calling for an all-out strike, the first in six years since September 2016.
The union said wage increases of more than 5% had been given to workers at major Korean conglomerates since last year. However, over the past three years, the average salary increase for people working in the financial sector has been less than 2%, which is well below the rate of inflation.
“We are rejecting management’s offer of a 1.9% wage increase,” a union member said. “The year-on-year increase in the wage rate has exceeded 3% only once in the last decade. We cannot back down from the requested figure of 6.1%.”