At Kia, the union continues to demand the full KMWU-prescribed wage package, including bonuses equal to 30% of 2016 net income. The union membership has authorized its leadership to order strike action, but thus far only one partial-day walkout has occurred. It was held in sympathy with other unions generally protesting working conditions and was not tied specifically to the wage negotiations.

Kia Motors and its union have agreed not to discuss details of the talks with news media until a settlement is reached.

The Seoul Central District Court on Aug. 31 ordered Kia to award union workers 422.3 billion won ($375 million) in back pay for overtime-payment shortfalls in the 2008-2011 period. If upheld by the Supreme Court, where Kia has filed an appeal of the lower court’s ruling, every worker who was employed in the period could receive a 15 million won ($13,300) payout.

That special one-off payment would be in addition to whatever gains the union may make in the current wage negotiations.

Kia also may have to adjust overtime payments for the subsequent period not covered by the ruling and anticipates total liability of 1 trillion won ($887 million).

At GM Korea, the country’s third-largest automaker by sales volume, the union is demanding the KMWU-prescribed 154,883 won ($138) monthly wage increase and five months’ pay as a bonus.

The automaker has countered with a 50,000 won ($44.65) monthly wage increase, a one-time special signing bonus of 6 million won ($5,360) and a 4.5 million won ($4,020) performance bonus to be paid at year’s end if productivity and production goals are met.

The union’s apparent sticking point is with both the monthly wage increase and bonus offers. The 10.5 million won ($9,380) GM Korea is offering in the total bonus package amounts to less than two months’ average pay, while the union is demanding five months’ pay.

“GM Korea is committed to reaching a fair and reasonable wage agreement, as it continues to address its sustainability and profitability,” a company spokesman tells WardsAuto.

Workers at Ssangyong, Korea’s fifth-largest automaker, on July 30 ratified a new contract that contains a larger monthly pay increase than the package Hyundai has offered to its union, although the bonus payout is less.

The deal gives workers a 53,000 won ($47) monthly pay hike, two-and-one-half months’ pay as a performance bonus and 150 shares of common stock.

The settlement marked the eighth year in a row the union and Ssangyong have settled wage negotiations with no strike action.

Renault Samsung seemingly also was in the clear, having reached a tentative agreement with its union Aug. 29. It would have marked the third year in a row an agreement was reached without strike action.

However, within hours the union rank-and-file at the main plant in Pyongtaek and the engine plant in Changwon rejected the deal by a slight margin. Sources at RSM say workers were unhappy because they had learned of the bonus back pay situation at Kia and wanted to include bonuses as part of their basic wage.

Management had offered a 62,400 won ($59) monthly wage boost, a 4 million won ($3,600) performance bonus and a 1.5 million won ($1,340) bonus to be paid for signing a contract without a strike.

Additionally, RSM workers would receive one and-a-half months’ pay in production-based bonuses and an additional half-month’s pay as a bonus for achieving company goals.

Talks are ongoing. The union has approved strike action, but no walkouts have been held.