SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — A Seoul court handed down jail terms to key Samsung executives on Tuesday and detained them for sabotaging labor union activities at the top conglomerate’s customer service unit.
The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Lee Sang-hoon, Samsung Electronics Co.’s chairman of board, to 18 months in prison for breaching labor union-related laws when he served as chief financial officer.
“While Lee claims there were many areas he did not know much about, (we) cannot give him immunity only due to the fact that (he) was not aware of the peripheral areas,” the presiding judge said.
The court gave the same sentence to Samsung Electronics Vice President Kang Kyung-hoon, who was sentenced to 16 months in prison last week for sabotaging labor activities at another Samsung unit. Both were detained.
Of the 32 indicted in the case, including current and former Samsung employees, suppliers and labor management professionals, 26 were found guilty.
Among those who were charged with union-busting but received suspended sentences were key Samsung affiliate chiefs, including Chung Keum Yong of Samsung C&T Corp. and Won Gee-chan of Samsung Card Co.
While the extent and details of their charges varied, the Samsung executives, who had previously worked at the group’s now-defunct elite group, were found guilty of masterminding plans to deter labor activities.
Prosecutors had earlier indicted them on charges of leading and engaging in group-wide efforts to neutralize the labor union by targeting members and leaking sensitive personal data.
The jury said there were “countless documents” detailing tactics to hamper labor activities that were distributed to numerous affiliates by the elite unit, adding the documents themselves “acknowledge the plotting and execution of and collusion in the crime.”
The ruling comes six years after the top conglomerate’s alleged union-busting first surfaced in 2013, when Justice Party chief Rep. Sim Sang-jeung unveiled a 150-page document on Samsung’s labor management strategy.
It is the second recent blow to the top conglomerate, which advocates a non-labor union policy.
Last week, a different panel of judges at the Seoul Central District Court sentenced Samsung Electronics’ Kang to 16 months for sabotaging labor activities at Everland, an amusement park run by Samsung C&T.
Samsung declined to comment on either ruling.
Samsung Electronics Service employees who are part of an umbrella union welcomed Tuesday’s ruling.
“Samsung’s comprehensive and organized union destruction has been officially affirmed by the court. Like the prosecution had said during its September 2018 indictment, ‘The truth that everyone knew but could not affirm’ emerged through the trial,” Yoon Jong-seon, who heads the umbrella unit’s Samsung Electronics Service unit, said in a press conference after the trial.
The unionized workers said they will continue to fight for a more just ruling in future cases and to spread the culture of labor unions at Samsung.