In July 2016, the Daejeon District Court sentenced a former CEO, who was charged with unfair labor practices, to 10 months' imprisonment and ordered him arrested immediately to be detained during the appeal proceedings. This sentence was actually heavier than the 8-month sentence that the prosecutor had requested.
Convictions for unfair labor practices more typically result in monetary fines rather than imprisonment. This case is a useful demonstration that employers may also face imprisonment as a result of such violations.
In December 2014, the former CEO held a meeting with 20 individuals (former members of the police and special forces) at the headquarters of his company in Seoul. At the meeting, they agreed that "upon joining the company, they must not join or must withdraw from the Metal Workers' Union." In the same month, the former CEO hired 60 new employees (including 13 former policemen and 19 former special-forces members) and urged them to withdraw from the Metal Workers' Union and to join the company's favored union instead. By mid-April 2015, 52 out of the 60 new employees had joined the company's favored union.
The former CEO's actions violated Article 81(2) of Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act, which prohibits employers from requiring an employee to join or withdraw from a particular labor union as a condition of employment, i.e. yellow-dog contracts.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.