Citibank Korea's labour union votes for collective action over wage increase

SEOUL, April 30 Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:58am EDT

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SEOUL, April 30 (Reuters) - The labour union of Citigroup Inc's South Korean unit voted on Wednesday to take collective action, including a possible strike, after negotiations with the bank for an almost 3 percent annual pay rise failed.

The vote also comes after Citigroup said it was closing almost one-third of its branches in South Korea.

The union has already asked for a court injunction to stop the closures, union official Jo Sung-gil told reporters, adding the group was also trying to pressure the bank to reduce the number of redundancies if it goes ahead with shrinking its operations.

The labour union groups 75 percent of Citibank Korea's full-time and contract workers. Citigroup said earlier this month it will shut 56 out of 190 branches in the country.

The union could take collective action after May 2 if it fails to reach an agreement with the bank on the wage increase at a state-mandated mediation on Friday, Jo said.

The union has no plans to immediately go on strike, but workers are considering taking breaks from work and refusing to use English in internal documents, he added.

A Citibank Korea spokeswoman said the bank was in talks with the union and was taking measures to ensure customer service is not affected. She declined to comment on the branch closures issue.

The last time South Korea's banking sector saw a strike was in 2011, when members of Standard Chartered's local bank unit walked off the job for more than two months in protest at the bank's pay policy. The strike, however, petered out after the bank refused to reach a compromise. (Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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