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Big flaws exposed in Labor Ministry`s company evaluations

Big flaws exposed in Labor Ministry`s company evaluations

Posted February. 14, 2013 07:11,   


Twenty-seven subsidiaries of Shinsegae Group, which owns Korea’s largest retail chain E-mart, which is suspected of unfair labor practices, have been cited for “superior labor culture” over the last eight years by the government.

According to documents submitted Wednesday by the Labor and Employment Ministry to Rep. Kim Kyung-hyub of the main opposition Democratic United Party, one to seven Shinsegae subsidiaries, including certain E-Mart branches, were lauded for having a superior labor culture every year from 2005 to last year.

In particular, the designation went to the E-Mart branch in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, in 2008 and 2011, showing flaws in the ministry`s system of selecting companies with model labor practices. The Bucheon branch allegedly dismissed or relocated employees just because the biography of well-known labor activist was found at a warehouse operated by a supplier in October 2010. The ministry raided the branch earlier this month for unfair labor practices.

Rep. Kim said Shinsegae’s employee interview program, one reason for the conglomerate’s subsidiaries to get the labor culture award, was a method that the companies used to monitor its workers. According to interview records released by Kim, Shinsegae companies evaluated their employees based not only on worker inclinations and issues but also family matters.

“How can the public understand that (the Labor Ministry) names 27 Shinsegae subsidiaries ‘excellent’ companies and provided preferential treatment?,” Kim said. “The ministry should cancel the designations and review the system.” A ministry official later called part of the interview records “problematic.”

Labor Minister Lee Chae-pil told the National Assembly’s labor committee that the designation program was obviously improperly run and that he would see if the companies meet cancellation criteria.