Samsung is facing a testing time with a slump in profits due to weak demand for its memory chips.

Seung Joon Cho | bloomberg | Getty Images

The influential Samsung Electronics trade union warned Thursday that its members could walk out over a wage dispute, in what could be the South Korean tech giant’s first strike in its history.

The Samsung Electronics National Association claims that Samsung management has cut the union out of wage negotiations.

The NSEU, which says it represents about 10,000 employees, or about 9% of the staff, organized a press conference outside a Samsung building in Seoul and demanded that the tech giant’s chief Lee Jae-yong join the discussions.

Lee Hyun-kuk, a union representative, said he would launch a strike after consulting with his members, but said it depended on Samsung Chairman Lee’s “attitude”, and his willingness to negotiate, according to local media reports that were posted on the union’s website.

NSEU’s Lee said, according to Bloomberg, “It depends on Chairman Lee Jae-yong’s position. We sincerely ask him to come to the table for talks.”

Samsung was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

If the walkout continues, it will be the first strike since Samsung Electronics was founded in 1969. Samsung Electronics includes Samsung consumer appliances, semiconductors, displays and mobile carriers.

The tension with workers comes at a sensitive time for the world’s largest maker of smartphones and memory chips, after its first-quarter operating profit fell to its lowest level since 2009. Samsung has been hit by lower prices and demand for its memory chips, which is the biggest driver of profit. .

The union is calling for a 6% increase in workers’ wages. Samsung management said last month it would raise wages by about 4%, according to the union.


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