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Mando fined for paying union staff

Mando, the nation’s largest automobile parts maker, has been fined 25 million won ($28,000) for paying extra wages to fulltime unionists, officials said Thursday.

The Suwon District Court slapped fines of 15 million won and 10 million won on the company president and another executive in charge of labor affairs, for breaking the “time off” system adopted by the Ministry of Employment and Labor last year.

The scheme aims to reduce paid time off for each fulltime union worker to 1,000 hours a year and limiting the maximum number of such employees to 24 per company. The system will be applied to larger firms hiring 15,000 employees or more from July. Next year, the limit will be further lowered to 16.

Paying more fulltime unionists than this is considered an irregular labor activity and is subject to up to two years imprisonment or up to a 20 million won fine.

Mando is the first large company with more than 2,000 unionized workers that was convicted of breaking the time off term.

Mando union, under the umbrella of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has 2,200 members among 3,800 company workers.

Last year, Mando’s management and unionists agreed to have five fulltime unionists paid from the company and another 16 full-timers supported by the union. However, the authorities spotted the company had paid for 10 additional union leaders, three of their cars and their maintenance fees.

“There have been few cases of mid-to-small sized companies violating the time-off rules but this is the first time such a large company was charged. The amount of the fine also tops the record,” the ministry said.

The court ruling is expected to pose a major threat to other labor unions, which are staggering over drastic slimming down of fulltime leaders. The management of Hyundai Motor, which has more than 45,000 union members, is allowed to pay wages to just 24 fulltime union heads from last July, from the previous 220. Other unions, too, have gone under extreme downsizing for the same reason.

The drastic cut often leads the workers’ representatives to forge secret ties with the management for subsidies.

The case of another automobile accessory maker, Doowon, with its union also under the KCTU, is pending at a court over a similar case.

The labor ministry said it has detected more illegal liaisons between the company management and workers behind closed doors.

“We will collaborate with the judiciary body and pose stricter regulation on irregular labor activities,” the ministry said in a press release.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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