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Hyundai and labor unions reach deal to end costly strikes

By Paula Hancocks and KJ Kwon, CNN
September 5, 2012 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
Union officials claimed this is the first time shifts have changed at Hyundai in 45 years.
Union officials claimed this is the first time shifts have changed at Hyundai in 45 years.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Strike at Hyundai forced it to cut production by more than 80,000 vehicles
  • Hyundai has agreed to abolish overnight shifts and increase basic pay, bonuses
  • Hyundai: 'Our priority now is to normalize production and fulfill customers' expectations'

Seoul (CNN) -- Hyundai Motor's labor union voted to accept a wage deal with the company Monday, ending four months of negotiations.

The strikes, in July and August, were very costly to South Korea's largest automaker, cutting production by more than 80,000 vehicles. This cost it 1.7 trillion won ($1.5 billion), Hyundai said in a statement.

One of the key issues at stake was night shifts. Hyundai has agreed to abolish overnight shifts and will rearrange the working day from March next year into two shifts, the latter ending at 1.10 a.m.

The moved was welcomed by union officials.

Spokesperson Kwon Oh-Il told CNN, "This is the first time shifts have changed in 45 years.

"We've been pushing to change this working shift system for the past ten years. Union members will have more time to spend with their family and can invest more time in their daily lives."

The union also expressed hope the deal struck could signal future changes for other industries as well.

As part of Monday's deal, Hyundai agreed to a 5.4% increase in basic pay, a 350% bonus increase and a one-time payment to each employee of 9.6 million Korean won ($8,468).

"Hyundai Motor management is pleased that the labor union members approved the agreements made last week, putting an end to the strikes," the auto giant said in its statement.

"Our priority now is to normalize production and fulfill customers' expectations."

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