Samsung Issues a Public Apology for Union Sabotage

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Samsung presented a public apology on Wednesday for a sequence of group-led attempts to sabotage a Samsung Electronics’ customer service unit union, after a court ruling on Tuesday that sentenced key Samsung executives to varied jail terms.

In a joint statement, Samsung Electronics and Samsung Construction and Trading (C&T) said, “We are terribly sorry to disappoint many people over the issue of labor-management relations.” In the statement, they added, “We will never let it happen again.”

Samsung acknowledged its failure to meet expectations from the public, guaranteeing a “healthy and future-oriented labor-management culture based on respect for employees.”

The Seoul Central District Court handed down the guilty verdict on Tuesday to 26 out of 32 former and current Samsung Group officials, employees, labor-management professionals, and suppliers who were indicted by prosecutors for sabotaging union activities.

The court sentenced Lee Sang-hoon, Samsung Electronics’ Chairman of the Board, and Kang Kyung-hoon, Samsung Electronics Vice President to 18 and 16 months, respectively, in prison for breaking union-related laws. Government officials detained both of Samsung officials.

The district court also indicted Won Gee-chan, Samsung Card CEO, and Chung Keum-yong, Samsung C&T CEO, charging them for union sabotage but received suspended sentences.

The Samsung executives attempted to sabotage the union of Samsung Electronics Service, set up in 2013, by leaking sensitive personal data and targeting members, such as cutting union members’ wages.

Samsung Group’s now-defunct Future Strategy Office perpetrated the attempts.

The presiding judge said, “The Future Strategy Office distributed its plans, designed to break up the union, to the group’s affiliates and subsidiaries. The number of measures that have been actually carried out were incalculable.” He added, “There is enough evidence to suggest Lee and Kang directed affiliates and subsidiaries to break up the union.”

The judge added Kang, “played a key role in planning strategies and implementing them.” Kang oversaw the Future Strategy Office’s labor management.

The Samsung Group expects more uncertainties with the lastest court ruling at a time when Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman, faces a trial for his supposed involvement in the massive corruption scandal that unseated former President Park Geun-hye.

The unionized Samsung workers welcomed the ruling and said they would continue to work to spread the culture of unions at Samsung Group.

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