SEOUL, April 3 (Korea Bizwire) — A labor union has been created at internet giant Naver for the first time in the company’s history.
The union, a subgroup operating under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, issued its official declaration on Tuesday, and received membership applications from 300 people within a couple of hours, according to a senior official.
It’s the first time since its establishment in 1999 that the web portal has allowed a labor union to be formed.
“As Naver grew, it became more bureaucratic, shifting away from its initial horizontal corporate culture, while the culture of active communication, which is key to success in the IT industry, has disappeared,” the union said in its declaration.
“In the meantime, worker welfare has deteriorated, and the value of our work has not been appreciated in the name of a blanket wage system and extreme performance-based work scheduling,” the union added.
‘Blanket wage system’ refers to one of the wage calculation methods used in Korea where a worker is paid a fixed amount regardless of their actual working hours.
The move comes following criticism last year against the company over the lack of fairness with the news selection on its portal site and the poor treatment of workers.
The growing criticism from both outside and within the company over issues such as delayed bonuses prompted a group of workers to begin preparing for the establishment of the very first union from early this year.
The union has said nearly 95 percent of workers have already expressed their wish to join the union, citing a survey conducted on an anonymous internet board.
With the aim of ‘growing together with the company’, the union is set to begin negotiations over working conditions and appointing union officials.
When asked about the union, Naver management said it would respect the rights of workers guaranteed by the constitution.
Naver’s decision to permit the creation of a union has been seen as a rare move in the South Korean IT industry, with only a few international companies having done so in the past including Hewlett Packard Korea and Microsoft Korea.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)