In November of last year, a colleague passed away due to an accident at work. Around the same time, the company proposed switching to the paper payment system for workers performing waste transport services. The beginning of outsourcing has been floating around. This is the story of a worker at Shin Daehan Oil Refinery, a waste disposal company. Workers who felt the employment crisis formed a union in February of this year. New Korea Oil Refining Industry Branch (Chairman Geun-cheol Kim) of the Chemical Fiber Food Union. Members of the branch are workers who perform incineration, fly ash solidification, and transportation tasks that occur during the waste treatment process. After the union was established, the situation seemed to improve for a while. He started negotiating with the company, and in the process of discussing the collective agreement, he carried out the contents related to job security. But negotiations have stopped since August. A single agreement reached about 90% of the time was unprecedented. The branch recently filed a constitutional complaint. What happened?
“I decided to work until I found a replacement.
A colleague who was supposed to resign, died due to an industrial accident”
“We talked face-to-face two or three days before the accident… .”
Han Su-young (45, pseudonym), who works in the transport of household waste, recalled the memory of November 24 last year. On that day, a colleague, A (29), got caught in a ‘paddle mixer’ while working alone and died in an accident. At the time of the accident, Mr. A was tasked with making the fly ash produced after incineration of garbage into lumps. “(A) wrote a letter of resignation saying he was resigning, but five days after the company asked him to work until he found someone, an accident occurred while working at night,” explained Mr. Han. He explained the reason for participating in the union establishment, saying, “The working environment is also poor, and since the company is trying to transfer the work to a contract, I thought it would be difficult to guarantee the right to live anymore.”
According to the branch, at the end of last year, the CEO of the company gathered 18 employees from the transportation department and proposed a paper payment system. According to the Labor Standards Act, it was proposed that employees who were living on a fixed monthly salary as workers should switch to a sole proprietorship. The borrower is charged a transportation fee according to the transportation distance. As both vehicle ownership and maintenance and management are the responsibility of the borrower, individuals must bear a lot of uncertainty. Kim Geun-cheol, president of the branch, said, “When it is a new car, there is no repair cost, but in the case of a wastewater vehicle, the repair cost is high after two to three years. . Chairman Kim added, “People who have reached retirement age are at their peak working age anyway, so they cried and ate mustard to accept the change of position.” Currently, 6 out of 18 transport workers are working in the form of payment.
“Establishment of labor union at risk of outsourcing”
A company manager said that the transportation department is just the beginning and other departments will be outsourced. The workers set up a branch in February of this year. About 50 workers gathered and, starting with a meeting in March, negotiations began to conclude a collective agreement in 2021. Negotiations seemed to proceed smoothly as they tentatively agreed to 83 provisions, including the provision of employment succession in case of a change of company.
However, two days before August 19, when the 15th main negotiations were scheduled, the new Daehan Oil Refining Industry Alliance was formed and requested negotiations with the company. Negotiations that the branch was in progress with the company came to a halt, and after going through the process of unifying the negotiation window, the branch lost its bargaining rights. There were about 70 corporate union members, 20 more than branch members. The total number of employees in the company is 150.
However, the company has not started negotiating with the trade union. The branch said, “The company asks the branch to send an official letter stating that it is not a majority union or a bargaining representative union. We are procrastinating,” he explained.
In the process of establishing a business union, there are some inconsequential parts. “During the collective bargaining process, the management has argued that office workers and team leaders are not eligible for membership,” said Kim Geun-cheol, president of the branch. did. Excluding office workers, the number of members in the branch is greater than that of the corporate union.
In addition, in May of this year, when the union was preparing and contemplating forming the Mutual Aid Association, the ‘Wollim Mutual Aid Association’ was newly established under the leadership of the management. The name of the corporate union that lifted the anchor in August is ‘New Daehan Oil Refinery Alliance’.
“The unifying window system violates basic rights”
New Daehan Oil Refinery workers do not know when they will face job instability again. Shindaehan Oil Industry is one of seven affiliates of Eco Management Korea (EMK), a large waste treatment company. Private equity fund IMM Investment, the operator of EMK, is preparing to sell EMK. The possibility of future employment flexibility or restructuring cannot be ruled out.
In the end, the union decided on the 29th of last month that the individual right to organize is guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 29(2), 29-2(1), 3(4), and 29-5 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act (Union Act), which stipulated the procedure for unifying bargaining windows on the 29th of last month. They filed a constitutional complaint, claiming that they violated their fundamental rights.
According to the constitutional complaint petition submitted by the branch, “The Constitution can exclude basic rights by law, but if restricted, it prohibits the deprivation of basic rights by ensuring that the essential content cannot be infringed.” On the other hand, the right to collective bargaining and collective action will be completely deprived of minority unions other than the bargaining representative union or new unions that fail to participate in the window unification process.” It has the same purpose as the constitutional complaint filed by the two major trade unions.
Branch Chairman Kim Geun-cheol said, “For the members who have trusted and followed us in the past, we are going to talk with the management and make it happen in a good way.”