The Chanel Korea Workers Union, a member of UNI affiliate KFSU, announced on 21 December 2021that they have successfully won wage increases and inked a new collective agreement with Chanel Korea management.
This good news came five days after a strike was launched on 17 December.
The strike involved 390 union members out of 480 workers, and it saw 60 stores out of 85 Chanel-operated stores having to stop operations.
The industrial action was approved by more than 90 percent of the membership and stemmed from the union’s disappointment over the lack of sincere efforts by the management of Chanel Korea over the past two years.
According to the union, the key provisions of the new agreement are:
- The company will confirm the Offline business as a core business model and conduct quarterly meetings with the union to support this model.
- The union will participate in a new project named “Making a Good Company for Women” from 2022.
- The two sides agreed to prioritise the employment security for duty-free shop workers and discuss ways to overcome the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A 4.2% of basic wage increase and additional incentives of Hotel-Voucher of Department Store Voucher, both worth about KRW 200,000 (US$168) respectively, will be paid to workers.
- The company will adjust the company regulation to comply with the legally guaranteed holiday-paid work.
- The company will retroactively pay the unpaid allowance owed from the past two years and three days of Holiday Work Pay in October.
- The number of full-time union officials will be increased from 2 to 3 persons, and union activities will be expanded.
- The company will strengthen the preventive measures of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The new agreement will address many of the outstanding grievances the union had raised with the company.
Sister Kim So-Yeon, President of Chanel Korea Workers Union, said, “This victory comes from our union members’ commitment. For now, we signed the temporary agreement, and our union members would return to work. We will proceed with the union voting for approval later. And we would like to thank the KFSU, UNI, and many organizations for extending their full support for our fight.”
The Chanel Korea Workers Union had previously struggled to negotiate over working conditions during the pandemic, unsatisfactory handling of serious allegations of sexual harassment cases in the workplace, and a fairer and better wage and sales incentive system through collective agreement bargaining.
These episodes, the union had charged, demonstrated that the company fails to respect the basic human rights and labour provisions of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines).
The union filed an official complaint with the Korean National Contact Point of the OECD Guidelines complaint mechanism on 10 December (World Human Rights Day).
The union announced that they would not withdraw the OECD complaint, despite the new agreement, until the troubling sexual harassment case could be satisfactorily resolved.
The UNI Asia and Pacific Regional Secretary Rajendra Acharya congratulated the Chanel Korea Workers Union, saying, “My heartiest congratulations to the Chanel Korea Workers Union for securing a significant victory before 2021 end. This result is a very happy holiday present for all the union members!
“Chanel is an international luxury fashion brand looked up by millions of people. It has to make efforts to ensure it lives up to its promise of creating a safe and inclusive work environment that fosters collaboration and well-being for its people. Only such actions will reflect its vision of representing the best in society.
“The new collective agreement reflects well on Chanel’s commitment, and we strongly believe that Chanel Korea Workers Union is one of the best partners that can work with Chanel Korea’s management to continue to deliver on these visions.”