On December 17, 2019, a Seoul central court sentenced the CEO of Samsung, Lee Sang-hoon to 18 months in prison for violating the labor laws during his service in the company as the chief financial officer (CFO).
Not only the chairman but also the Vice-President of Samsung, Kang Kyung-hoon faced the same prison sentence for involvement in the obstructing of labor union activities in South Korea. Samsung declined to comment on who will become the chairman of the board of the companies.
The Group’s Attempts to Undermine Union
The allegation of the group’s involvement in the anti-trade union was started in 2013 after Justice Party chief Representative, Sim Sang-jeung had published a 150-page document on Samsung’s labor-management strategy. The group constantly set guidelines to undermine the establishment of the unions.
Only in November 2019, the group allowed the formation of a union at Samsung. The first labor union was formed at Samsung Electronics which opened the new chapter in the company’s 50-year history. However, the group under the leader Lee Jae-yong was caught for bribery in the attempt to restoring the old system which undermined the power of the union.
Many charges were filed against several employees comprising the current and former Samsung employees, suppliers, and labor management professionals. Out of the 32 charges, 26 were involved in the attempt of overthrowing unions.
According to a court jury, “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.”
In addition to this, last week, a panel of judges at the Seoul Central District Court sentenced Samsung Electronics’ VP, Kang to 16 months for interfering labor activities at Everland, an amusement park run by Samsung C&T.
Involvement of Several Executives in the labor Violation
Several other executives of Samsung were also involved in interfering and misconducts against trade unions. The court also announced those executives who were convicted of the crimes. Chung Keum Yong, the co-CEO of Samsung C&T Corp. and Won Gee-chan, the CEO of Samsung Card Co. are the executives who were convicted for the charge of the violation.
According to State prosecutors, “Samsung executives used various tactics to discourage union activities, including threatening to cut the wages of employees linked to unions and withdraw business from subcontractors who appeared union-friendly.”
The prosecutors had earlier announced the group’s extensive efforts to dismantle the union by targeting sensitive personal data of the employees. With this report of state prosecutors, Labor activists have urged that severe punishment should be given to those executives who involved in interfering union activities.
Samsung group, one of the biggest conglomerate groups of South Korea, has been facing several complaints as the group is inclined to the anti-trade union. The group has been pressurized to change its policies in order to improve the existing conditions of the employees and bring positive reforms for the workers of the company. The group had already expressed that the trade unions created “unnecessary conflicts” and hindered the development of the company.
The court’s decision has been warmly welcomed by Samsung Electronics Service employees who are part of the union. Welcoming the decision, the unionized workers expressed the view that they would continue fighting for similar cases in the future to foster a culture of labor unions at Samsung.
I’m Roshan, a journalist, blogger and music lover. I like covering global news related to finance, business, and technology. Focusing on the collection of true and reliable information, I rely on working by conducting interviews with business leaders and talking to the inside sources of companies.
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