SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Korea Bizwire) — A Seoul court ruled Friday that the country’s top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. should partially count regular bonuses paid to its employees as part of their “ordinary wages.”
Twenty-three members of Hyundai’s union filed a lawsuit in March 2013, demanding that the management include bonuses, transportation and vacation stipends as part of ordinary pay and that the ruling be applied retroactively for three years.
Ordinary wages refer to a fixed amount paid to an employee on a regular basis and are used as the basis for calculating certain employee benefits, such as overtime pay, paid annual leave, severance pay and other allowances.
Ruling partially in favor of the plaintiffs, the Seoul Central District Court said that management should count regular bonuses paid to two unionists, who were from Hyundai Auto Service, as part of their ordinary wages.
The ruling comes after the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling in December 2013 on a prolonged dispute over the issue, saying that non-monthly bonuses should be viewed as part of a worker’s standard wages if given on a regular, uniform and periodic basis.
The Seoul court ruled on Thursday that bonuses paid to 21 other plaintiffs lacked regularity.
Of the 23 plaintiffs representing some 51,600 Hyundai unionists, five plaintiffs represented some 5,700 unionists from Hyundai Auto Service.
Hyundai Motor merged with Hyundai Auto Service and Hyundai Mobis, formerly known as Hyundai Precision, in 1999.
Industry watchers said that the Thursday ruling represents an effective win for the management since it only has to pay an additional 3.89 million won and 220,000 won, respectively, to the two unionists.
Hyundai Motor’s labor union expressed regret over the ruling, saying that the verdict should be applied equally to all affiliates.
“It is regrettable that the court only recognized ordinary wages of unionists from Hyundai Auto Service,” Lee Kyung-hoon, a union member, told a press briefing, adding that the union will have an internal discussion before deciding whether to appeal the ruling.