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Hyundai Motor Union Votes to Go on Strike Over Bonus Dispute

Hyundai Motor's labor union voted Friday to go on strike over a dispute with management over the size of an annual bonus, the head of the union said.

Union chief Park Yoo Ki said that 400 representatives of the company's 44,000-strong union voted unanimously in favor of the proposed walkout.

Park said the timing and details of the strike were to be decided over the weekend, including whether it would be a full-fledged or partial walkout.

Hyundai's union has refused to work overtime since late last month after workers received a bonus equal to one month's salary, which they say is less than agreed.

The company says the negotiated bonus total was based on an incentive to reach the company's 2006 production target and since that was not achieved because of strikes the payment was reduced.

On Monday, Hyundai sued the union, seeking damages to help cover production losses caused by the dispute. Hyundai is seeking 1 billion won (US$1.06 million) from the union and 27 of its leaders for refusing to work overtime.

Tensions boiled over last week when workers scuffled with company officials at an annual New Year's ceremony at the Ulsan facility, 415 kilometers southeast of Seoul. Hyundai President Youn Yeo Chul, who is also the top official at the factory, suffered minor cuts and bruises and had his glasses broken.

Labor troubles are a near constant headache for Hyundai. Through 2006, Hyundai's union has gone on strike every year but one since it was established in 1987.