SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's largest shipper HMM Co. on Tuesday pressed its labor unions to return to the negotiating table, saying the imminent walkout of its workers could cost the firm a whopping US$580 million.
"We have already offered the unions a raise estimated at 10 percent, considering that the potential strike can deal a harsh blow on the export-oriented economy," HMM said in a statement.
On the previous day, unionized sailors and other sea-based workers at HMM have voted in favor of staging their first-ever strike after wage negotiations with the company reached a deadlock. They plan to hand in letters of resignation to management Wednesday.
The separate land-based labor union of HMM also plans to hold a vote Monday on staging a walkout.
Union members demand an 8-percent pay increase on top of a bonus amounting to 800 percent of their wages. In contrast, the management offered workers an 8-percent raise, along with bonuses of 500 percent.
The seafarers union said it is still open to reach a last-minute agreement with the company, should the management come up with a sweetened proposal.
Union members claim they have been underpaid compared to workers at rival companies and their wages have been frozen for up to eight years.
HMM, meanwhile, posted record earnings over the April-June period on the back of rising freight costs. Its operating profit rose 10 times from a year earlier to about 1.4 trillion won (US$1.2 billion) in the April-June period.
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