Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM)’s seafarers abandoned ship, literally
HMM had an army of seafarers demanding wages increment and threatened to strike along with jumping ship to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) if the requests were unmet. With Korea Development Bank (KDB) objecting to the demands, it angered more than half the union members to pack up and leave.
Another question of integrity
KDB’s bailing out HMM certainly played a major role and warrants substantial say in this negotiation, more so as the largest shareholder. Yet, the state-owned back remained oblivious, in addition to the reality of Korea’s struggle to rejuvenate its critically wounded maritime. The Korean liner just recorded its highest profit at KRW 2.41 trillion ($2.05 billion) for H1 2021! It is a colossal increase compared to KRW136.7 billion in H1 2020. Revenues also surged 98.4 per cent in the first half of 2021 to KRW 5.33 trillion.
That under any circumstances warrants a degree of generosity, but it did not happen. The furious union stressed: “We do not want our request to be misunderstood as asking for more money, but our dedication to the company hasn’t been recognised.” To date, 317 HMM seafarers have called it quits.
Hot air from the top
Adding insult to injury was HMM CEO’s ironic New Year message. It read, “I would like to thank all of you who have done your best in your respective roles over the past year. I would especially like to express my deepest appreciation to of HMM’s off-shore employees working at sea, who have devoted themselves, not only to cost reduction, but most importantly, to safe navigation. Please know that your efforts are deeply appreciated by all of us here at HMM.”
If HMM is not apprehensive about possible negotiation failures, it should be concerned about a potential $580 million loss from the strike if it happens. It would also be needing a massive public relations plan to repair its reputation as the strike will be implicating Busan, Korea’s main port and the largest transhipment hub in Northeast Asia. Busan accounts for 75 per cent of Korea’s cargo traffic. In totality, the possible loss may surpass $580 million, which HMM likely overlooked.
Crewing Online News Team
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