Striking workers at SC First Bank will likely return to work as early as next week, albeit at a slower pace, ending their all-out work stoppage that started in June in opposition to the bank\'s move to adopt a merit pay scheme, the lender\'s labor union said Monday. Unionized workers at the Korean unit of Standard Chartered Plc have decided to partially return to work, said Chang Chang-hwan, a spokesman for the labor union, but will stage slowdowns from Monday to Thursday and hold a rally every Friday until their requests are accepted. \"Unionized members plan to resume work, but will continue to stage a partial strike until their demands are met,\" he said. The union said its members plan to return to work starting Aug. 29. Irked by a management plan to adopt a performance-based pay system, about 2,900 unionized workers at the Korean unit of Standard Chartered Plc have been on strike since late June at a resort in Sokcho, 213 kilometers east of Seoul. The walkout marked the longest strike in the history of the local banking sector. Out of 6,500 bank employees, half are unionized workers. SC First Bank is the first lender operating in South Korea to seek an overhaul of the seniority-based salary scheme, eliciting strong opposition from its labor union, which says the move is merely an effort to cut labor costs and does not jibe with Korean culture. But the management, led by chief executive Richard Hill, was also adamant in introducing the pay system, saying that the bank cannot continue to pay out high salaries without growth. The strike has strained both the management and the labor union as the prolonged walkout is increasing inconveniences for bank customers. The bank has temporarily shut down about 10 percent of its nearly 400 branches. Both sides failed to reach a breakthrough in negotiations held early Monday, which the government arranged and mediated. The management earlier suggested a revised proposal to the labor union like the creation of a task force to discuss the issue of adopting the merit pay system. But it could not narrow the gap with the labor union over issues such as an early retirement system and how to deal with underperforming employees.