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Government vs. Labor Union on Chohung Bank Sell-off

Posted June. 16, 2003 21:51,   


A conflict between the government and the labor union of Chohung Bank over its sell-off is becoming more serious. This might further deteriorate the current financial market and diminish Korean economy`s credibility in the international market.

The Vice Premier and Finance and Economy Minister Kim Jin-pyo said at a press conference on June 16th, “Despite the opposition from the labor union, we would nail down the bank`s sell-off within this month. If the labor union pushes ahead with an illegal strike, I would take stern measures according to related laws and regulations.”

He added, “We already secured cooperative system to protect the bank`s main information center in case of emergency situations with enough alternative employees. So, the bank transactions would not stop if the labor union goes on strike.”

The labor union of the bank headed for the Presidential Blue House to register original copies of resignations of 7224 employees around noon this day, but was blocked by the police.

The labor union said through its statement, “We would launch a general strike from June 25th, and male employees will shave their heads on June 17th to express our strong resistance against the sell-off.” It added, “If the bank is sold off as the government planed, we have no intention to work for the bank. That is why we decided to present our resignation.”

Federation of Korean Trade Unions also warned against the government`s forceful administration of the sell-off plan saying, “If the government pushes forward its schedule, the entire organization under the Federation of Korean Trade Unions will go on a general strike on June 30th. In addition, we would refuse to give our our support for other government agencies if the government injects the police force to put down the union strike. “

The management of Chohung Bank declared its position through a statement released by its Bank President Hong Suk-ju saying, “It is true that there have been some unsatisfactory points in the government`s process of selling off the bank`s shares. But they also urged the labor union to refrain from going into strike by adding, “the currently undergoing sell-off process should be respected”.

The ex-chairman of the AMCHAM Jeffrey Jones said, “It is understandable that the labor union have worries over future uncertainty. However, launching an illegal strike will raise further social confusion. Foreign investors are paying close attention to the sell-off process of the bank.”

Kwu-Jin Lim Kwang-Am Cheon mhjh22@donga.com iam@donga.com