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KB Kookmin Bank stages strike, 600 branches affected

All Headlines 09:42 January 08, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- Workers at KB Kookmin Bank, South Korea's leading lender, launched a nationwide strike Tuesday for the first time in 19 years over bonuses and wage system reforms, its labor union said.

The one-day walkout started at 9 a.m., as last-minute overnight negotiations between the labor and the management did not lead to a breakthrough.

The last time unionized workers took collective action was in 2000, when the bank acquired the Housing & Commercial Bank.

The exact numbers of participants and branches that are being affected are yet to be known, but the union said more than 10,000 members appeared to join the collective action, which crippled operations at around 600 out of 1,057 outlets across the country.

As part of an effort to minimize inconvenience to customers, the bank designated some branches as central outlets to deal with tasks of nearby affected branches, while encouraging more customers to use online and mobile services, according to the lender.

As of end-November, the major lender had 31.1 million customers.

The union and the management have been wrangling over key labor issues, including rules on the wage payment system and the amount of bonuses to be given to employees for last year.

After negotiations, including arbitration attempts by the National Labor Relations Commission, went nowhere, 96 percent of some 12,000 workers voted in favor of the strike last month.

The labor union has vowed to launch several more rounds of such short-term strikes unless they reach an agreement with the management. With detailed plans being made, a two-day walkout is planned starting Jan. 31.

Unionists of KB Kookmin Bank gather at Jamsil Students' Gymnasium in Seoul on Jan. 8, 2019, to hold a ceremony to declare the start of a strike. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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