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Biz Groups Prepping for Entry of Multiple Unions

Posted May. 12, 2009 03:17,   


The Samsung Group, known for its ban on unions, has announced countermeasures to the government’s policy to allow multiple unions highly likely to be implemented from next year.

The policy is expected to emerge as a contentious issue among major conglomerates, including Samsung, LG and Hyundai Kia Automotive.

A top Samsung executive said yesterday, “In a recent two-day workshop on overcoming the economic downturn attended by all group and affiliate executives, the multiple union issue officially came up for the first time. The workshop emphasized that Samsung needs to be ready for the changes to be brought on by the policy`s implementation.”

“Samsung’s fundamental stance is to maintain its no union policy.”

Samsung is not alone in struggling with the idea of multiple unions. LG said, “Allowing multiple unions could pour cold water on our efforts to develop a win-win partnership between management and labor.”

A top executive from LG Electronics said, “If office workers and researchers form their own unions in addition to the existing one for plant employees, it`ll be challenging for the company to manage all of them.”

The Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, which has long suffered from conflict with its militant union unlike Samsung and LG, said the government must no longer postpone allowing multiple unions.

Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Yoon Yeo-chul recently announced publicly several times, “According to principles and law, the government must allow multiple unions and prohibit wage payments to former union members to promote advanced labor-management relations from next year.”

The company has nothing to lose from the establishment of more rational unions that oppose the militancy of its existing counterparts.

Allowing multiple unions as stipulated in the 1997 labor law revision has been postponed three times under agreement from labor, management and the government. In the third deferment in 2006, they agreed on implementing the policy from Jan. 1 next year.

On the matter, the Korea Employers Federation confirmed and shared its guideline with labor affairs executives at major conglomerates. The guideline specified that companies should respond to excessive demands to strengthen unions with principles, and maintain an “open shop” policy allowing employees to make their own decisions on union membership.

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