Sam­sung chair­man jailed for union sab­o­tage

Muscat Daily - - BUSINESS -

Seoul, South Korea - The chair­man of Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics, the world’s big­gest smart­phone and chip maker, has been jailed for sab­o­tag­ing union ac­tiv­i­ties, prompt­ing a rare apol­ogy on Wednesday from the firm.

Chair­man Lee Sang-hoon and ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Kang Kyung-hoon were both sen­tenced to 18 months for lead­ing a wide-rang­ing op­er­a­tion to de­ter staff at Sam­sung’s cus­tomer ser­vice unit from op­er­at­ing a union.

Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics is the flag­ship sub­sidiary of the Sam­sung group, by far the big­gest of the fam­ily-con­trolled con­glom­er­ates known as chae­bols that have pro­pelled South Korea’s rise to the world’s 11th-largest econ­omy.

Along the way, the com­pany has fought fe­ro­ciously against union rep­re­sen­ta­tion, un­til lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Su­won, where it is head­quar­tered, last month cer­ti­fied the Na­tional Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics Union, which is af­fil­i­ated with a pow­er­ful um­brella group.

Lee and Kang were found guilty by the Seoul Cen­tral District Court on Tues­day of vi­o­lat­ing labour union laws, with pros­e­cu­tors say­ing they had or­dered sub­or­di­nates to cut union mem­bers’ wages and to dis­cover and ex­ploit de­tails of their per­sonal lives such as preg­nan­cies and debt, among other tac­tics.

Both men had been on bail dur­ing the trial but were im­me­di­ately taken into cus­tody.

At the time in 2013, Lee was Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics’ chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, and both men have been mem­bers of the now-dis­banded Fu­ture Strat­egy Of­fice, the firm’s key de­ci­sion-mak­ing body.

The com­pany is­sued a joint state­ment on Wednesday with con­struc­tion af­fil­i­ate Sam­sung C&T - which has also had ex­ec­u­tives con­victed of vi­o­lat­ing union laws - ac­knowl­edg­ing their er­rors.

‘We humbly ac­cept that the com­pa­nies’ un­der­stand­ing and view to­wards labour unions in the past fell short of so­ci­ety’s ex­pec­ta­tions,’ they said.

They pledged to en­sure no rep­e­ti­tion, adding, ‘We will en­deav­our to build a for­ward look­ing and pro­duc­tive labour man­age­ment re­la­tion­ship based on the re­spect for our em­ploy­ees.’

Lee had de­nied the charges but Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics de­clined to com­ment on whether the men would ap­peal.

Lee Sang-hoon

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