Go to contents

“Labor Sometimes Should Take Care of Management”

Posted March. 11, 2008 03:05,   


“LG Electronics is not my own company. It is neither solely owned by current union members. We decided to freeze wages to make a more competitive LG Electronics which can be a great workplace for our children and grandchildren.”

LG Electronics’ union leader Park Jun-su is one of those who played a pivotal role in freezing the firm’s wages for two consecutive years and encouraging the labor and management to reach an agreement over wages without a strike for 19 straight years. In a telephone interview with the Dong-A Ilbo, the 54-year-old union leader said, “It’s high time for a union to throw away a short-sighted stance but takes a forward-looking attitude.”

LG Electronics’ executives and union leaders held a workshop at Seoul Education & Culture Center, in southern Seoul, for two days starting March 5. The two sides reached an agreement in half an hour since they began a wage negotiation on March 7. Even though Korean firms usually say ‘Rohsa’ when describing the relations between labor and management, LG Electronics calls the relations ‘Rohgyeong’ since the general expression of ‘Rohsa’ is associated with vertical relations.

Given inflation, wage freeze means actual decrease in income. In short, it is not easy for employees to accept it.

Park stressed, “It takes dozens of negotiations and several months for some large corporations to reach an agreement with their labor unions. However, LG Electronics is different. It is the pride of LG that the labor and management take care of each other.”

His explanation means that both the management and labor of LG Electronics have a strong belief that if employees agree to share a burden with the management so as to boost corporate competitiveness, the management will compensate employees later.

Park compared the firm to husband and the labor union to wife, saying, “The relationship between labor and management is not different from that between husband and wife.”

He added, “Imagine that a husband makes his wife get angry. If the wife assumes a defiant attitude toward her husband without any constructive measures, she would result in a broken marriage. If she wants to correct her husband’s mistakes, she needs to be more strategic, while sometimes nagging at her husband and winning his heart with smile, at the same time.” He means such efforts made by the wife (or a labor union) are a prerequisite for better marital relations.

After seeing Park compare the labor-management relations to a married couple, LG Electronics Vice Chairman Nam Yong responded, “Both husband and wife should treat each other better when they are in good relations. The management will never make light of the union. Instead, we’ll treat our employees better.”

Nam reportedly appreciated union leaders’ determination several times, saying, “Some say that large corporations’ labor unions have a social responsibility. However, we know that it was not easy at all for the labor union to make such a decision.”