New Union at Samsung a Sign of Crack in Group’s No-union Policy | Be Korea-savvy

New Union at Samsung a Sign of Crack in Group’s No-union Policy

Samsung Group's headquarters in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Samsung Group’s headquarters in Seoul. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Korea Bizwire)After key company executives were found guilty of union busting, pressure on Samsung Group to amend its “no-union” policy is growing.

In the midst of the controversy, employees of Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Co., a Samsung Group’s insurance affiliate, will also form a labor union for the first time since its establishment in 1952.

The labor union of Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance said Sunday that it submitted a report of its establishment to the southern branch of the Seoul Regional Employment and Labor Administration on January 23.

The union criticized management, which has adhered to the principle of a “no-union” policy, for thoroughly controlling the establishment of the union.

“While talking about ethical management externally, management wields the right to appoint personnel at their whim, and has managed and controlled the weak employees to prevent them from forming a labor union,” said Oh Sang-hoon, leader of the union.

“We have never enjoyed the three labor rights recognized by the Constitution since joining the company, and we have worked thinking that it is natural,” Oh said.

“We endured even if our boss looked down on our dignity, and failed to say anything about unfair personnel decisions, high salaries, promotion systems, unreasonable goals, and other forms of discrimination.”

He then appealed to employees to put an end to one-way management that “does not respect workers’ constitutional rights and workers’ rights.”

There have been several attempts to establish a union at the company, but they have been repeatedly thwarted by the group’s “no-union” management principle.

The Seoul Central District Court, however, acknowledged the reality of Samsung’s so-called “union-busting operation” and convicted related executives and employees in December last year.

Samsung Group later issued a public apology, hinting at changing its unfriendly stance towards labor unions, and unveiled additional measures to beef up compliance programs for its affiliates in an initiative to better deal with legal obligations that was headed by former Supreme Court Justice Kim Ji-hyung.

Currently, labor unions have been established within Samsung Group in such affiliates as Samsung Electronics, Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung Securities.

Most of them, however, are said to be small or not active enough.

D. M. Park (

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