Friday, 21 January 2022
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Inside the fight for unions at Samsung

In 2011, restaurant manager at a Samsung amusement park Jo Jang-hee tried to set up a labor union, that was when human resources managers gathered him and some 60 colleagues into a basement seminar room.

Showing pictures of Detroit’s foreclosed houses and rusted car plants on a big screen, the officials had a message to deliver: Unions were to blame for the downfall of the US car industry.

“Everyone: Decide whether it is better to have an union or not,” one of officials said, according to a transcript provided by Jo, a 22-year veteran at Samsung’s Everland theme park.

“Then managers offered to give me anything I want – better pay, promotion, you name it,” Jo said.

Jo says he was fired days after he went on to start a union in July that year. Samsung said his repeated violation of company rules was the reason for the layoff, according to court documents.

But five years later, the Supreme Court ruled the sacking was retaliation against Jo’s union activities and the company reinstated him.

“The company has respected the Supreme Court’s ruling that the layoff was excessive although some grounds of its disciplinary action were accepted and the company has completed measures such as reinstatement,” Samsung C&T Corp, the unit that runs Everland, said in a statement to Reuters. It denied Jo’s claim that he was offered better pay or a promotion.

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