Nov 18, 2013

Samsung Investigated for Union Busting by Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor

A large part of Samsung's success has been its "good" relationship with the Korean government and its "no union" policy.  Samsung has been criticized for decades for receiving preferential treatment from the Korean government, because of relationships with government officials/politicians and perception that without Samsung the country is doomed.

Many in Korea have, also, criticized Samsung for its environmental practices, labor practices, abuse of suppliers and gauging of local consumers.  Much of the criticisms have, at least, some merit.

The government may be changing its practices with regard to Samsung.  An opposition party has revealed a document produced by Samsung management that allegedly instructs management to encourage employees to disorganize trade unions if unions are established. 

The document has led the Korean Metal Workers' Union, Lawyers for a Democratic Society and the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy to file a criminal complaint with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office against Chairman Lee Kun-hee and 10 other top executives of the company.  Lets see if the prosecution calls Chairman Lee.

The case has been referred to the Seoul office of the Ministry of Employment and Labor.  The Ministry will call the Accusers to the office first and, then, decide if o conduct a full investigation. Not sure what the point is of calling the Accusers, since the evidence seems to be based on documentary evidence, however, this is not an unusual procedure. 

Is the Korean government changing or it this an investigation that is going nowhere?
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Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.

Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team and Entertainment, Media and New Tech Law Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. He assists clients in their contentious, non-contentious and business developments needs in Korea and China.