A leading Samsung Electronics workers union has warned of going on strike over a wage dispute with the management. If it happens, this could potentially be the South Korean tech giant's first strike since its foundation in 1969.

The union's warning comes a month after Samsung management said it agreed with a labor-management council to increase the average pay by 4.1% this year. However, the National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) alleged the company management cut the union out of wage negotiations, according to CNBC.

The NSEU, which reportedly represents around 10,000 staff members (9% of total Samsung employees) and comes under South Korea's Labor Ministry, organized a press conference Wednesday outside a Samsung office in Seoul, South Korea, demanding Chairman Lee Jae-yong to join the discussions.

"Samsung Electronics announced the final agreement without the consent of the union," the union said during the presser, as per South Korean news agency Yonhap. "We will join hands with other unions to fight to bring the company to the dialogue table and make it accept us."

Union representative Lee Hyun-kuk said the group's decision to strike will depend on the "attitude" of the chairman, as well as his willingness to negotiate employees' wages.

"It depends on the attitude of Chairman Lee Jae-yong. We sincerely ask him to come to the table for talks," the NSEU's Lee said, according to Bloomberg.

While the union is seeking a 6% wage increase for workers, Samsung management argued to increase pay by only 4%.

"A shabby wage increase may be a problem, but the biggest problem is that wage negotiations between the company and the labor-management council are illegal for non-union management," the labor union said, as reported by Korean Herald. "The company has illegally concluded a wage agreement through the labor-management council instead of the union this year and last year."

Meanwhile, a Samsung spokesperson said "the company has diligently followed all relevant and related procedures, and will continue to hold discussions with the union."

If the workers go on a strike, other unions at Samsung Group affiliates such as builder Samsung C&T or Samsung SDI will follow suit, according to Oh Sang-hoon, a union representative of Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance.

"We are not here just for a salary hike, but also to protest against Samsung's crackdowns on the union," Oh said. "The chairman apologized for a union-free management in 2020, but he still has not met us."

It is unclear if the tech giant will follow through with the union's warning.

Tensions between the Samsung management and workers appears to come at a crucial time for one of the biggest smartphone and memory chipmaker in the world. The South Korea tech giant has been grappling with falling prices and demand for its memory chips, after its operating profit declined to its lowest level since 2009 in the first quarter.

Unionized workers had previously threatened a strike at the tech giant in February 2022 to raise their demands for higher pay and better working conditions after wage talks collapsed. Union representatives held a rally near Samsung's headquarters in midtown Seoul, calling for narrowing wage gaps among employees, increased paid leaves and better health benefits. While the labor group secured the right to strike, it did not take action against the company.

In August 2022, the tech giant and its labor unions reached a tentative agreement over wages and holidays, making it the first deal between the two sides. Samsung management and the unions had settled for a 5% increase in base salaries and 4% rise for excellent performance, along with other benefits such as bigger incentives and Lunar New Year holidays.

The tech giant had been heavily criticized for its to attempt to prevent workers from forming a labor union. However, in 2010, chairman Lee vowed to improve the labor-management relationship at Samsung.

As of now, Samsung Electronics has four labor unions, with the first organization setting up in 2018.

The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul