Hill holds key to SC First strike
By Kim Jae-won
SOKCHO, Gangwon Province ― The union and management of SC First Korea Bank has been engaged in a tug-of-war over its CEO Richard Hill in a strike that has been unfolding not within any of its branch offices or headquarters but in this resort town on the eastern coast of the country.
About 3,000 unionized SC workers have been on strike here since last week over management’s plan to introduce a performance-based wage system.
The union is demanding that Hill come to Sokcho and talk to them, while management is insisting that Hill would go only if there is any meaningful progress in their negotiations.
Still, the union threatens to continue their collective action unless management backs off. Regulators are calling for a compromise but their call has been falling on a deaf ear.
“A CEO is like a father. If the children go wayward, he is supposed to look out for us,” said Kim Jae-yul, chairman of the SC First labor union in an interview with The Korea Times Tuesday. Kim was obviously referring to the union as a wayward child in a comparison that could be interpreted as an admission to the union’s activity being inappropriate.
Kim said he and unionists will welcome the CEO if he comes and is willing to have dialogue on the performance-based payment system, which the bank wants to implement from next year.
But management has rejected this, saying that the union should first come up with a meaningful proposal to end the strike.
“We repeatedly asked the union to have discussions. If both sides compromise on the issue, then the CEO could come,” said a spokeswoman of SC First Bank.
The union leader said that the strike, which has lasted for seven business days since June 27, might last longer if the CEO does not visit them. Currently, the union is under pressure from opposing public opinion.
SC workers have been receiving wages that are considerably higher than those at bigger banks such as Kookmin and Shinhan. Besides, the bank is struggling to boost its bottom line after years of minor and serious troubles.