|Samsung Electronics' office in Seoul / Yonhap|
By Kim Bo-eun
Unionized workers at Samsung Group affiliates filed a petition with the government Monday, accusing the conglomerate of subsidizing members of a labor-management committee to exercise greater influence over them.
The latest development comes after the head of the conglomerate, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, apologized for union-busting practices in the past and pledged in May last year to comply with laws that guarantee workers' rights.
Union representatives submitted a petition to the Ministry of Employment and Labor to look into possible violations of labor regulations. The union representatives also filed a complaint against executives of Samsung's affiliates with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency over allegations of breach of trust.
"We have taken action because the situation has not improved since the apology. Samsung is attempting to control and manage employees by subsidizing the labor-management committee," Jang Seok-won, an official affiliated with the union told The Korea Times, Tuesday.
According to the union representatives, the subsidies were given via a company credit card provided by Samsung. Labor regulations state that companies cannot provide money to members of the committee, and the union representatives state that Samsung's subsidies are a violation of this law.
Samsung denied the accusations made by the union.
"Since Samsung pledged in May 2020 to establish a future-oriented and healthy labor-management culture, we have acknowledged the unions and are guaranteeing their activities," Samsung said in an official statement.
Regarding the labor-management committee, Samsung added; "The committee is being operated lawfully based on related regulations. The company is collecting the opinions of executives and employees and is seeking to improve working conditions via the labor-management committee, whose members have been elected through direct voting by executives and employees based on related laws."
Samsung added it will "faithfully proceed with wage negotiations with the unions."
In September last year, Samsung Welstory, affiliated with the Korean Metal Workers' Union, filed a petition with the labor ministry over alleged illegal subsidizing of the labor-management committee. The union claims Samsung Welstory's labor-management committee had access to a company credit card and was receiving 300,000 won in monthly payments.
Labor representatives said Samsung also sought to make certain workers on its labor-management committees have permanent seats. The same labor regulation states that the status of members of the labor-management committee should be temporary.
Union representatives said they brought forward the issue to Samsung's compliance committee, which was set up in February last year after a court order to ensure the conglomerate is abiding by labor laws. Samsung Group has over 20 unions representing its affiliates.