Essence of the ‘no-union policy’ of Samsung
Updated at Aug. 28, 2009
“Recognize trade unions over my dead body!” said Lee Byungchul, the late founder of Samsung. After his announcement of the ‘No Trade Union policy’, the Lee family running Samsung, CJ, Hansol, Saehan, Shinsegae and E-mart have oppressed workers building trade unions for decades, despite the the right to independent association being their constitutional rights.
The ‘No Trade Union policy’ is not merely a joke of a philosophy but a crime itself. Samsung has violently and illegally violated human rights. It has used shadowing, watching, coercive transfers, kidnappings, dismissals, arrests and good cop, bad cop methods to keep its policy. It even illegally copied mobile phone numbers registered in the names of dead people to tap the phones of workers. In collusion with police and administrative offices, Samsung has accused workers of violating laws on rallies and impeding businesses, and prosecuted workers for libel to quell workers’ voices.
The ‘No Trade Union policy’ and ways of repression have been applied not only to Samsung subsidiaries but also to subcontractors as well.
This is why Samsung General Trade Union has consistently been fighting against Samsung subsidiaries such as Samsung Heavy Industries Co., Ltd, Samsung SDI and Hansol Hometech, CJ Hellovision and subcontractors including irregular workers’ struggle in Dongwoo Fine-Chem.
Why Samsung adopted the no-trade union policy
According to the ‘Labor Management’ manual published by Samsung Training Center in October 1987, the reason why IBM, GE, GM, ITT, HP, MOTORTOLA, KODAK, DUPONT and APPLE adopted a no trade union policy are as follows:
The No Trade Union policy
* is to escape the tyranny of trade unions as the majority in industrial democratization.
* is a favorable safeguard against the possible loss due to strike, lockouts, labor-management disputes, to achieve a goal of industrial peace relationship
* is to strengthen international competitiveness, to enhance productivity and to restrain evils and adverse functions of the trade union for the survival of the company.
* is of great advantage for the labor-management community for co-existence and rehumanization.
The No Trade Union policy can prevent social unrest and curb outside influences ” said Samsung (by the Samsung Training Center), though it has deprived workers of basic labor rights in reality. The essence of the No Trade Union policy is exploitation to maximize profits for the Lee family.
“What Samsung doesn’t want to recognize is not the trade union itself but the need of having trade unions. The philosophy of labor management is management without trade unions.” said Samsung in Oct. 1987 (Samsung Training Center).
How Samsung control workers
Samsung has controlled workers both in visible and invisible ways.
Visible way of control includes kidnapping and trying to win over workers. The chief plant manager and staff from th top to the bottom have been mobilized in the work.
Invisible ways of control have done through information networks managed by labor management department in the companies. Samsung information network is closely related with staff inside the company, but outside the company as well. In an emergency situation, it allegedly has employed private detective agencies and has closely related with police and administrative offices.
When it gets any hints of trade union building activities, it allegedly has deployed 2-3 people to the Ministry of Labor and municipal authorities to prevent workers from registration. Samsung has used ‘ghost trade unions’ several times, abusing the labor law which bans plural trade unions in the same workplace. When a trade union registration gets turned down, kidnappings, isolation and collapsing of the trade union has followed.
We can find evidence in the struggle of Samsung workers with leukemia. Workers have no independent organization to fight with. They are dying from not being aware of causes of disease. It is reported that dozens of workers are being treated, although the company has tried to hide the truth and searched for ways of winning over workers with money. It has just argued that the diseases are not occupational but individual cases. Why Samsung is able to keep the truth secret, is because there is no trade union for workers to defend themselves. This is the essence of Samsung’s No Trade Union policy.