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Labor Unions Declare Peaceful Deals

Posted August. 01, 2008 03:29,   


An increasing number of corporations have declared “no labor disputes” and tried to maintain the positive change by peacefully sealing wage increase deals with labor unions.

These measures can be attributed to the labor unions` effort to overcome the recently aggravated business environment via amicable relationships between labor and management. In an effort to help their business groups tide over the difficult economic situations, quite a few labor unions have voluntarily sought to resolve wage deals through peaceful negotiations. Some labor unions are even asking to freeze their wages to the management.

At the headquarters of Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co. in downtown Seoul yesterday, the representatives of labor and management declared to continue peaceful labor-management relations. Since its founding in 1974, the firm has continued “no labor disputes” for the past 35 years. Marking a step further from the tradition, the special event on the day was designed for the labor and management sides to declare a “permanent end to labor disputes.” The firm’s labor union entrusted the management with the rights to control wage rates.

STX Shipbuilding Corp. yesterday announced that its labor union reached an agreement with the management over “no disputes and no strikes.” Since its establishment in 2001, eight affiliates of the STX Group have maintained “no labor disputes” for the past eight years.

Maeil Dairy Industry Co. also held a ceremony to declare “no disputes and no strikes” as labor and management promised to promote cooperation and job security along with a win-win labor-management culture. The firm cut a “management partnership” deal with the labor union in May last year, and no labor disputes have been reported for the past two years. The company said, “Labor and management reached an agreement to reduce unnecessary labor conflicts, considering the harsh business environment due to skyrocketing oil and commodity prices.”

Unionized pilots of Korean Air have decided to voluntarily freeze their wages this year at a general meeting held on Tuesday. This measure was the first since the introduction of the union system in 1999. Korean Air said that the measure was designed to strengthen harmonized relations between labor and management to withstand the deteriorating business environment stemming from the oil price surge.

A slew of businesses have inked wage deals without a strike for years.

The labor union of the Hanwha Group entrusted all the authority involving the wage hike to the management for two years in a row. The firm’s union has maintained its no-strike tradition for the past 22 years since 1987. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. also reached a conclusion to freeze wages of its employees in March this year. This firm has reported no labor disputes for the past 21 years since 1987.

Last month, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. and Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co. reached wage agreements. Daewoo Shipbuilding has reported no labor disputes for 18 consecutive years, Hyundai Heavy Industries 14 years and Hyundai Mipo 12 years.

The business circles say that the spread of no-strike moves reflects the unions’ realization of the current business situation and their efforts to share the hardship.

Kim Dong-wook, chief of the economic research team at the Korea Employers´ Federation, said, “When the economy is not good, workers would first consider job security rather than demand for wage hikes. This type of labor-management relations is common in advanced countries, something rapidly increasing in Korea recently.”

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