Samsung Chairman Jailed for Union Sabotage

Samsung Electronics' chairman of board, Lee Sang-hoon, faces the Seoul Central District Court for a trial. / Photo credit to Yonhap News

Samsung executives on Tuesday received court ruled jail terms in Seoul and detained for disrupting union activities at the electronics manufacturer’s customer service unit.

The Seoul Central District penalized Samsung Electronics Company’s chairman of the board, Lee Sang-hoon, with 18 months of prison time for breaking related laws to labor unions while he served as a chief financial officer.

The presiding judge said, “While Lee claims there were many areas he did not know much about, we cannot give him immunity only due to the fact that he was not aware of the peripheral areas.”

Kang Kyung-hoon, Samsung Electronics Vice President, also received the same sentence last week from a different panel of judges at the Seoul Central District Court with 16 months of prison time for sabotaging union activities at Everland, an amusement park run by Samsung C&T.

Government officials detained both chairman of the board and vice president.

The court found 26 out of the 32 indicted in the case guilty, including former and current Samsung employees, labor-management professionals, and suppliers.

Samsung C&T Corp. chief Chung Keum Yong, Samsung Card Co. chief Won Gee-chan, and other principal Samsung affiliates chiefs were among those charged with union-busting although received suspended sentences.

The Seoul court also found the Samsung executives guilty of instigating plans to disrupt labor activities. However, the extent and details of their sentences varied.

Prosecutors earlier charged them of leading and participating in group-wide efforts to disband the labor union by leaking sensitive personal data and targeting chief members.

The jury reviewed “countless documents” detailing strategies to hinder labor activities that were given to numerous affiliates by the now-defunct elite group. They added that the documents “acknowledge the plotting and execution of and collusion in the crime.”

The ruling came six years after the Samsung’s first alleged union-busting surfaced in 2013, after Sim Sang -jeung, The Justice Party chief representative, exposed a document containing 150 pages of the top conglomerate’s labor-management strategy.

The South Korean company advocates a non-labor union policy.

Samsung refused to comment on either ruling.

Tuesday’s ruling was welcomed by Samsung Electronics Service employees who are part of an umbrella union.

Yoon Jong-seon said in a media briefing after the trial, “Samsung’s comprehensive and organized union destruction has been officially affirmed by the court. Like the prosecution had said during its September 2018 indictment, ‘The truth that everyone knew but could not affirm’ emerged through the trial.”

Yoon Jong-seon heads the umbrella unit’s Samsung Electronics Service unit.

According to Yonhap, a South Korean news agency, workers belonging to the union stated that they will continue to stand for a more just ruling in future cases and will spread the labor unions’ culture at Samsung.

About James Jung

Senior Writer @KoreaTechToday

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