Unionized workers of Seoul subway operator to complete voting for strike next month

Unionized workers at Seoul Metro, the city-run operator of the subway system in Seoul, will complete voting this week on whether to go on strike next month, officials said Sunday, amid a disagreement over the company's workforce reduction plan.

The voting, which began Thursday, is set to end Monday, with the result to be announced later that day, according to the union and Seoul Metro.

The two sides have staged 10 rounds of negotiations over the dispute since the first one on July 11, without reaching an agreement. On Oct. 4, labor representatives applied for mediation over the dispute by the National Labor Relations Commission's Seoul office.

The dispute stems from Seoul Metro's plans to lay off 2,211 personnel, or about 13.5 percent of its total workforce, by 2026 to improve its finances.

The company has reported deep losses in recent years, with net losses of 1.14 trillion won (US$842 million) in 2020, 964.4 billion won in 2021 and 642 billion won last year. Its accumulated deficit as of last year stood at 17.68 trillion won.

The union has called for the company to withdraw its plans, arguing that the move could lead to safety problems.

Meanwhile, Seoul Metro has made preparations for a potential strike, signing an agreement with labor representatives late last month for workers to return to work even during a strike in case of a disaster.

"If a strike becomes a reality, we will implement emergency transportation measures to minimize inconveniences to the public," a Seoul Metro official said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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