Home > Business and Human Rights, Freedom of Expression, Labour > Suggestion for Labor Union Calls for the Pink Slip

Suggestion for Labor Union Calls for the Pink Slip

Seung Soo Jo, who is the representative of New Progressive Party, is holding a sign saying that ‘Although labor union creation is legally assured, Samsung chooses absolute dismissal? Is this attitude as No.1 Company Samsung? Mr. Park has to be reinstated right now!’ (Picture source : Yonhapnews)

Se Hwa Hong, who is a journalist at Hankyoreh newspaper, is holding a picket saying that ‘Dismissal is murder. Samsung workers die of leukemia and worker repression without labor union. Samsung employees, let’s unite and create democratic labor union!’(Picture source : Byung Seung Song, Sisa Seoul)

Mr. Park is shedding tears revealing his feeling at a press conference of denunciation of Samsung’s labor union creation suppression and dismissal invalidity confirmation lawsuit on December 27th, 2010. In the back, there is a picture of him suspended from working. There isn’t even a computer on the desk.(Picture Source : Sungho Yoo, Ohmynews)

By:  Yuri Yi

 

Jong Tae Park, who worked at Samsung for 23 years since he was 20, was fired on November 26, 2010. The fundamental reason for his employment termination was his suggestion to make a labor union. However, Samsung is denying such accusations.

The incident began with Park’s passionate move in ‘The Council of One family’[1] which is a substitution of a labor union at Samsung. He was elected as a council member in 2008. Since then, he worked hard to speak up for his colleagues regarding problems such as disadvantages in performance rating.[2]

His passionate service in the organization attracted attention from the authorities who began to monitor him. Whenever he wanted to go to the toilet, he had to advise his supervisor. When he used the computer in the common area during break, a supervisor came to observe what he wrote on the internet website.

Furthermore, they kicked Park out of The Council of One Family and attempted to transfer him to another branch in other countries such as Brazil and Russia. He refused to go abroad for health reasons. Consequently, he had his pay curtailed for six months and was suspended from the company for an indefinite period. His desk was moved to an isolated area so that he could not contact his coworkers. In addition, he had nothing to work on and was blocked from the company’s internal email system. He had to sit alone all day doing nothing; Samsung wanted him to resign.

Park developed depression from this outcast experience, resulting in psychotherapy hospitalization. Currently, he is taking 31 pills per day to alleviate disk, depression, anxiety syndrome, gastritis, and insomnia.

After three months of waiting for work, he uploaded a text demanding the creation of a labor union but it was deleted within 15 minutes. He wrote it again, however, it disappeared in an instant. In the end, Samsung dismissed him on the basis of revealing company secrets, spreading false information, and disorderly conduct.

Even though it has been two months since he was fired, Park is still in the front of Samsung Suwon branch staging a one-man demonstration. Park is having financial difficulties in supporting his two daughters who are attending elementary and middle school; however, he refuses to give up fighting against Samsung stating, ‘I would like to show that justice wins, not winning is justice.’

At first, he was alone, but not anymore. Many people, including employees at Samsung, support him. Se Hwa Hong, who is a journalist working at Hankyoreh newspaper,[3] protested with Park on January 12th. Mr. Hong said that, ‘it’s unbelievable that management without a labor union still exists. I can’t even imagine it happening in Europe. Korean Enterprises are insisting that they are global companies, but their labor-management relations are similar to that of a feudal society in the middle ages.’

Seung Soo Jo, who is a representative of the New Progressive Party, was with Mr. Park on January 24th. Mr. Jo said that ‘we should focus on this problem from the point of view of workers’ basic right repression which is caused by a management without a labor union at Samsung. This is not only a problem of individuals, but also a problem of structure.’

Banollim, which is a group that supports health and human rights of workers at semiconductor factories, joins every Friday to cheer for Park. After several semiconductor employees who worked at Samsung passed away, the members of Banollim attempted to disclose Samsung’s lack of justice.[4] Jong-ran Lee, a labor attorney at Banollim, said that, ‘not only the dismissal of Mr. Park but also the leukemia problem of Samsung semiconductor workers and the suicide problem of Samsung LCD factory workers were caused by the absence of the basis of a humane working environment. If Samsung allows the creation of a labor union, that would allow Samsung to have the fundamentals for fair communication, to prepare safety measures of chemicals use, communication is an important medium.’ Lawyers for a Democratic Society also helped Park win the suit against Samsung to let him go back to his workplace.

Samsung is the number one company in Korea. However, Samsung has not yet joined the UN Global Compact. Beginning this July, multiple labor unions are legally allowed by the labor union law. As managements without labor unions became a target of criticism, attention is now focusing on the direction of Samsung’s attitude.

As Kun hee Lee, the chairperson of Samsung Electronics, state that, ‘society and citizens have to be honest’ right after his amnesty, Samsung would appear as to focus its business ideology on honesty. Nevertheless, as a global company, will Samsung be able to survive in the global market ignoring human rights?

 


[1]. It is equivalent to a joint labor-management council in which labor and management negotiate about concerned issues. Its name is taken from a motto of Samsung ‘an another family’

[2] For example, female employee who has child can’t avoid negative consequence in human resources. It’s because minimum 5% of employees has to get low score in the assessment of performance, and mothers naturally becomes targets unless something unexpected happens. In order to escape from disadvantageous situation, even pregnant women keep their status secret and have miscarriages in the end of excessive labor.

[3] Hankyoreh is a representative progressive newspaper in Korea.

[4] Recently, Gyo Chul Joo, who worked at Samsung semiconductor factory as a Diffusion Part Engineer for 23 years, died of leukemia on November 14th, 2010. He couldn’t get compensation for Industrial disaster. He was nineth employee who died of disease at Samsung. Joo Hyun Kim, who worked at Samsung LCD factory as a Facility Engineer for a year, committed suicide on January 11th, 2011. He suffered from severe dermatitis caused by chemicals in the factory and excessive labor for 14-15 hours a day. It happened a week after a female employee who worked at the same branch with Mr. Kim killed herself on January 3rd.

 



”I was fired” Jong Tae Park, who was fired from Samsung Electronics, is staging one-man protest in front of Samsung Suwon branch.(Picture source : Jaemin Kim, Ohmynews)

 

 

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