By Woo Je-yoon and Choi Mira
Workers of South Korea’s leading steelmaker Posco have joined the notoriously contentious umbrella union of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to launch one of the biggest factions in the metals union group and reviving unionized activity in the steel giant for the first time in 30 years.
The Posco faction of the Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU) under umbrella of KCTU made its launch formal in a press conference on Monday.
On Tuesday, shares of Posco rose 1.19 percent to close at 296,500 won.
In 1988, about 18,000 workers founded a union affiliated with the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, the country’s largest and less militant union group. The union started to fall apart in 1991 in the aftermath of a corruption scandal of some unionized workers. Currently, just about 10 in the 17,000-odd payroll belong to the union.
The company has been managed virtually without a union since then, and a labor-management council established in 1997 served as the channel for collective bargaining. Posco was fully privatized in 2000.
The union falling under guideline from the hard-line union group notorious for political rallies and walkouts is expected to raise bigger voice in management affairs.
“We cannot reveal the exact count so far, but an increasing number from production lines are signing up,” said an official from the new union after the press conference.
The unionized workers made multiple demands on the day to the management, urging it to guarantee labor’s three primary rights, establish equal and respectful labor-management relationship, investigate its former management’s corruptions and accommodate workers’ needs during wage talks.