Samsung says sorry as union-busting chairman and VP head off for 18 months in the chokey

Two dozen staff found guilty

The chairman and a vice president of Samsung electronics are starting 18 months' prison sentences after being found guilty of illegal union busting yesterday at the Seoul Central District Court.

Chairman Lee Sang-hoon and executive vice president Kang Kyung-hoon were in charge of a wide ranging scheme to stop staff joining unions. This included cutting wages for staff who joined unions and probing workers' private lives. Some two dozen other Samsung executives were found guilty of related offences.

The union busting was focussed on a customer service centre where Lee was chief financial officer.

The AFP newswire got a statement from Samsung:

"We humbly accept that the companies' understanding and view towards labour unions in the past fell short of society's expectations.

"We will endeavour to build a forward-looking and productive labour management relationship based on the respect for our employees."

The company has a broad anti-union stance across its subsidiaries.

Samsung is the largest of the massive chaebols which have effectively run South Korea since its creation at the end of World War II.

Public sentiment is starting to shift against the conglomerates, their political links and their internal cultures. ®

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