This November, a labor union affiliated to the Federation of Korean Trade Unions is expected to launch at Samsung Electronics, which had managed to maintain a “no-union management” for half a century.
Small unions had been established at the individual company level since last year, but this will be the first union affiliated to a national organization. The establishment of a union linked to a larger highly organized union is likely to bring winds of change in the labor-management culture at Samsung.
According to labor on October 31, the Federation of Korea Metal Workers' Trade Unions, a branch of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, planned to hold a general meeting for the establishment of a union at Samsung Electronics as early as in November.
Kim Man-jae, chairman of the Federation of Korea Metal Workers' Trade Unions said, "We will bring the flag of the Samsung Electronics union and declare the establishment of the union at the National Workers Rally of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions scheduled in November." He further said, "In the past, Samsung Electronics made it difficult to engage in union activities and the management was arrested for interfering with labor activities, but we think those days are gone."
On November 16, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions will hold a National Workers Rally in front of the National Assembly, so the Samsung Electronics union is likely to be launched in early or mid November. The Federation of Korea Metal Workers' Trade Unions designated the organization of a Samsung Electronics union as a strategic project and has worked to form the organization since the regular meeting of the board of representatives in May. On October 30, they launched an official promotion of the establishment of the union at the Samsung Electronics factory in Hwaseong. On November 1, they will continue to promote the union in front of the factory in Giheung. The newly launched union aims to recruit members and begin action regardless of occupation in all areas where Samsung Electronics is located. They will first launch the union centered on a small number of union members, then increase their presence by systematizing their efforts.
Samsung Electronics had maintained a no-union management since the company was founded in 1969, but unions began emerging since February 2018. These unions, which only have about a dozen members each, managed to make small but meaningful progress by engaging in collective bargaining this year. When the union affiliated to the Federation of Korean Metal Workers' Trade Unions launches, it could accelerate union activities across Samsung Electronics.
As for the federation of metal workers unions, which has branches in major companies, such as LG Electronics and SK Hynix, the Samsung Electronics branch would contribute to securing the foundation for industry union activities. A representative of the federation said, "Official promotion of the union has begun, and we will most certainly launch it (the union)."