Renault Samsung's worker relocation backfires
15 Aug 14
The Regional Labor Relations Commission in Busan ruled that the job relocation of 24 Renault Samsung Motors workers was unlawful, and called on the company to reverse the plan, officials said Thursday.
Renault Samsung previously transferred 30 top-salaried Busan plant workers to other positions within the plant.
The company's union insisted that the relocation was coercive since there was no prior notice or discussion with the affected workers, and that the positions that were transferred were labor-intensive jobs.
"The company accepted voluntary early retirement last year. Some 30 people left the company. And this year in March, the company initiated the so-called new start program and transferred another 30 people to posts that they had not taken before. It is another way of telling them to quit," union leader Ko Yong-hwan said.
Among them, 24 people filed a complaint to the commission in April, claiming that the relocation was "retaliation" for declining to accept early retirement.
Although the new start program is, in essence, the same as the early retirement program, Renault Samsung says that the relocation is part of its effort to redistribute its workforce.
"We have been relocating job positions since last year. During the new start program, we temporarily stopped the relocation and then restarted it. There is no correlation between the new start program and relocation," said an official of the company.
He added that the relocation was part of a strategy to streamline personnel. "Currently some 500 people are the top-salaried workers out of the total of 1,800," he added.
The ruling upheld the union's claim against the job relocation, but did not accept that the move was a retaliatory one.
It is not the final ruling, since Renault Samsung can appeal the case to the National Labor Relations Commission in Seoul.
Renault Samsung Motors has been in hot water before over personnel management.
Some 60 to 90 people claimed that they had been improperly denied promotions twice. The company's minority union, under the umbrella of Metal Workers' Union, also raised concerns about the issue of outsourced workers.
"The company doesn't help the local economy. It outsources people when business is good, and cuts them when times are not good. There is no job security and the company is repeating it over and over," said union leader Kim Byung-du.
As a protest, employees at Renault Samsung Motors' Busan plant stopped working for four hours on Monday. Some 2,000 unionized workers at the plant once again laid down their tools for four hours in the morning and another four in the evening both on Wednesday and Thursday.
Labor and management opened this year's wage talks in April, but found no common ground. Last month, more than 90 percent of unionists voted to strike.
Renault Samsung is especially worried that its hard-won growth momentum it gained this year after about a three-year sales slump could be lost. Up until last week, a series of partial strikes cost the company 16 billion won in lost profits. This week's partial strikes are projected to cost the company another 20 billion won, according to the company.