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Launch of First Trade Union of Regular Workers at Samsung Group Affiliate
By Bak Cheol-eung
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* Samsung SDI workers hold inaugural meeting after ten years of preparations

A labor union of regular workers has launched for the first time in a Samsung affiliate. On March 24, the Ulsan chapter of the Korean Metal Workers' Union, a member of the Confederation of Trade Unions, held a meeting of its operating committee and announced that the regular workers at the Samsung SDI Ulsan plant held an inaugural meeting and that the union approved Samsung SDI union's membership in the metal workers' union.

More than ten people attended the inaugural meeting held the previous day and workers who had personally joined the metal workers' union were known to be the leaders in the new union.

Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics (file photo)



The Samsung SDI branch will hold a press conference on March 26 and publicly demand the company for negotiations and a basic agreement for recognition, including a guarantee of union activities, an office, and full-time staff. They will also hand out flyers to attract more members and concentrate on responding to pending issues such as the reduction of the PDP business, changes to the ordinary wage, and the introduction of the salary peak system.

There is a Samsung branch in the Gyeonggi chapter of the Korean Metal Workers’ Union, but they are mostly non-regular workers, and the union's Samsung Electronics Service branch which launched last year is a union of workers from Samsung's partner companies. A labor union of regular workers has launched for the first time in a Samsung affiliate, at Samsung SDI.

There are unions at Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance, S1, and Hotel Shilla, but they are unions only in form, having been established by the company. These companies were referred to the "four companies with PU [paper unions]" in a document explaining Samsung's response to the launch of labor unions titled, "S Group Labor Strategy," which Samsung is said to have drawn up.

Workers had tried to establish a trade union at Samsung SDI for more than ten years, but there had been endless suspicions that the company tried to block and interfere with these efforts by monitoring and tailing the workers. Last October, Choi, a former deputy director of human resources at Samsung SDI demonstrated in front of the Samsung building in Seocho-dong, Seoul, displaying a placard which read, "Samsung incited me to bug and tail workers and to engage in various illegal lobbying."

A member of the metal union's Ulsan chapter said, "Preparations for the trade union were prolonged due to interference from the company, but the urgency that they could no longer bear the situation led to the establishment of the union." A Samsung SDI labor-management council is currently negotiating wages separate from the newly formed union. They are facing challenges as the company proposed a 1% range wage increase, while the workers are demanding a 17% wage hike.

Copyright The Kyunghyang Shinmun. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution without permission absolutely prohibited.

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