An illustrated column from the Hankyoreh entitled: A backhanded bargain.
Caption: The company E-Land fashions itself as a Christian enterprise. However, it has just laid off over 900 of its non-regular workers so as to avoid treating them better as the law requires.
Most of those being laid off are employed by Homever and New Core, E-Land affiliates.
E-Land, in observation of its work, feels called to prayer before crosses to which its workers have been nailed: “Save us, dear Lord, through mass layoffs.”[Update, July 13: seems that it has recently come to light that E-land has been using phoney documents to avoid regularizing its workers, read more here.]
The struggle at E-Land is continuing amidst the usual police presence and threats from government and management. Meanwhile, the Hankyoreh has reported on the history of bad practices at E-Land affliates Homever and New Core.
Observers have said that one of main reasons for worsening labor relations at E-Land is that the management has not, in essence, acknowledged the union’s existence.You can read the full story here.
In 1997, the E-Land union walked off their jobs for 57 days because the union has not reached any collective bargaining agreements with the management for over 4 years since the union was first formed in 1993.
In 2000, the union staged strikes for 265 days, demanding that management improve working conditions for temporary workers. At that time, the Ministry of Labor asked a court to issue an arrest warrant against E-Land founder and chairman Park Songs on charges of conducting unfair labor practices. Despite several requests, Park did not respond to the warrant while staying overseas. The labor disputes have continued to deepen as Park travels overseas whenever there are important events in labor-management relations, union officials say, referring to him as the final decision maker of the management. Park is reportedly out of the country now.
Labor tension was aggravated when E-Land acquired New Core stores in 2003 and Carrefour stores in 2006. Choi Ho-seop, a union official, said, “There has always been friction as management has not honored its agreements with the union.” According to the Ministry of Labor’s May inspection reports on Newcore department stores, the management has violated 10 labor law provisions.