After three former union officials were suddenly dismissed last week, UNI joined its affiliate Korean Finance Industry Union (KFIU) to condemn the dismissal as unjustified and an unwarranted attack on the union. The KFIU is demanding that the employers immediately rescind the dismissal notice.
The KFIU emphasized that under Korea’s labour relations framework, dismissals cannot be made based on “disputed acts”.
The acts in question referred to an incident occurring in 2017 where the three dismissed officials led a visit to the Korea Federation of Banks (KFB) office. The visit was designed to protest the forced introduction of performance salary reforms by the Financial Services Commission for public corporations and to demand the restoration of industry bargaining talks. Unfortunately, there were clashes during the visit, and the three officials were subsequently charged and given prison and probation sentences.
However, to avoid repeating similar incidents, the KFIU and the bankers association agreed not to press charges and retaliate further against the three union leaders. The association had even assured the KFIU as recently as May this year they would avoid any retaliation. As a result, it came as a shock when the three former officials were abruptly issued the notice a month later.
The KFIU worry that the sudden dismissals represent a fresh round of repression against the Korean trade union movement shortly after conservative President Yoon Suk-yeol assumed office in May.
Bro Park Hong-Bae, KFIU President, said, “This is unacceptable for us. The mutual agreement between the union and management must be fully respected and implemented properly. We are very concerned that the management is taking advantage of the new government’s capital-friendly policy. Such a narrow-minded and opportunistic position will undermine the industrial negotiation system, and they will pay a higher cost in the end, especially during this period of high economic pressure globally.”
The UNI Asia & Pacific Finance Director, Jayasri Priyalal, expressed concern at the situation, saying, “UNI Asia & Pacific stands in full solidarity with the KFIU. We share their concerns and call on the management to immediately withdraw the dismissals of the three KFIU officials.”