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A costly price for mismanagement

Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM)’s circus will be a long process

From the way things are, HMM’s recent spectacle is not about to end anytime soon. After losing 300 seafarers in a mass resignation, land-based staff might follow suit for the same reasons.

Mismatched leadership tenets

One cannot help but wonder if HMM was thinking clearly, given the intensity of the staff’s outrage towards being incredibly shortchanged. From the seafarers’ standpoint, they demonstrated unquestionable commitment towards the company since its rock bottom years in 2012. The company transited from red to black in 2020; posted earnings by the billions. Numerous staff who went through hell and back were unfortunately told point-blank that their loyalty meant nothing.

HMM is expected to lose $520 million if the seafarers’ strike takes place. The stakes are much higher now with land-based staff’s involvement. From the financial standpoint, if HMM assumes this $520 million is “affordable”, its management would need to evaluate the scale of damage when office staff joins the spectacle. While the price tag for a combined strike remains a big question, the biggest uncertainty would be the management’s positions.

Intensified with state-owned enterprises

HMM’s crisis is much more complicated and it involves a state-owned bank. It was last reported seafarers’ wages demands were rejected by Korea Development Bank (KDB), HMM’s largest shareholder. KDB bailed HMM out by swapping debt for equity in 2016, and it became the party having the final say.

HMM’s case involves both the country’s top carrier and the state-owned bank taking lead roles in the circus. While seafarers have a competitor to join, are there enough work to go around for shore-based staff in Korea? Not to mention, the country is known to be aggressively jumpstarting its wounded shipping industry, and circumstantial evidence now suggests otherwise. A huge disruption is on its way. Industry observers said the combined strike would be the first in HMM’s history, since its founding in 1976.


Crewing Online News Team
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