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[Editorial] Management Intervention Practiced by Labor Unions Needs to be Corrected

[Editorial] Management Intervention Practiced by Labor Unions Needs to be Corrected

Posted January. 24, 2005 23:07,   


The “recruitment business” of Kia Motors’ labor union at its Gwangju plant is an unreasonable practice caused by long-implemented management participation by labor unions. Compared to its competitors, Kia Motors stands out in its labor union participation in management, which has become possible due to its long history of professional managers that are small shareholders managing the company. The recent scandal regarding the “recruitment business” was nothing unexpected.

The labor union of Kia Motors hired unqualified workers as contract-based employees through “recruitment business” and took advantage of strikes in putting them on the payroll. As specified in labor-related laws, a labor union is banned from going on strike with the exception of purposes such as maintaining and improving working conditions or enhancing workers’ social status. It would not be an exaggeration to say that labor movements abusing the right to strike for irregularities and money have reached a very serious state.

Some large companies must seek agreement from labor unions even in production innovation and overseas investment as well as employee recruitment and human resource placement. By threatening to stop a production line from working, labor unions force companies to blatantly record unreasonable management intervention as “collective agreement.” Furthermore, such unions even pressure firms into channeling part of their profits to fund a social contribution. Employee discipline cannot be approved without labor unions’ agreement, either.

Because manual workers’ average annual salary reaches as high as 30 to 35 million won and due to job shortages in the region, Kia Motors’ Kwangju plant had a surplus of applicants competing for one position in every recruitment season for manual jobs. This should have led to a more transparent employment process, but the labor union instead lost its self-purifying capability and abused the situation for “hiring business.”

Some labor unions in conglomerates are turning into “aristocrat unions” of their own. While hostile disputes and increasing the overall pie may be sweet to labor unions in big businesses, workers at small and mid-sized enterprises that supply goods to their large counterparts have to suffer from such a painstaking restructuring. Management participation by large corporate labor unions has gone beyond the level that the society can tolerate any longer. In any case, this incident should serve as an opportunity to correct wrong practices.