Daeyang cardboard destroys the union and destroys the environment

▲ Taejin Lee, Head of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health at Daejeon Chungbuk Branch of the Metal Workers’ Union (Korea Labor Safety and Health Research Institute)

It has been 1 year and 7 months since I wrote on this page in April of last year that ‘union destruction makes workers sick’ in relation to the Daeyang Group union destruction incident. At that time, it was hard to believe that the incident took place at one of the leading paper mills in Korea. Taek-Hwan Kwon, CEO of Daeyang Panji, who appeared as a witness at the 2020 state audit, said he did not intervene in the labor union or engage in unfair labor practices and asserted that he would take responsibility for any illegal acts.

The investigation by the Ministry of Employment and Labor and the prosecution was conducted for over a year. And following the Ministry of Labor’s decision to cancel the corporate union’s authority, the Gwangju District Court sentenced six employees to probation and fines on charges of unfair labor practices. The court said, “By exploiting the employer’s superior position and the system of unifying multiple union bargaining channels, the two unions (Metal Workers Union) have blocked the opportunities for collective bargaining for over a year, intervening in the establishment of the three unions friendly to the company and representing bargaining by falsely reporting the establishment. “The fundamental purpose of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act, which aims to improve the economic and social status of workers by weakening trade union bargaining by gaining union status, has been dismissed, and the possibility of social condemnation is very high.” heard.

The reality of making vases

The word ‘hwabyeong’ is used in everyday life, but it is not a formally used diagnostic name in psychiatry, so the concept may be a bit vague. Hwabyeong endures anger for a long period of time, showing a sense of anger, sadness, and hatred, and complains of a feeling of rising inside or of chest tightness, frustration, and palpitations. It is said to show characteristics such as dry mouth, sighing, cluttering thoughts, and complaining. It is more likely to occur in a culture where anger cannot be expressed or assertive, and in groups that are relatively frequent and intolerant.

Daeyang cardboard workers formed a union to speak out for their legitimate rights, but were exposed to the company’s unlawful behavior and blatant discrimination for two years. Moreover, I thought that “the destruction of the union was finally over” because the corporate union was revoked after one year and the executives were convicted. It was expected that labor-management relations could return to a normal structure. However, Daeyang Paper’s management formed 4 labor unions (corporate unions), negotiated with them quickly, and reached an agreement. In addition, an executive who has been convicted is acting as the negotiating representative for the company, and negotiations with the metallurgical union are proceeding formally.

From the point of view of the workers, even though there are numerous laws and systems, they do not function as a protective device for the victims themselves, and are rather generous with the perpetrators, and they only realize the reality that they are not properly punished, let alone prevent recurrence. Wouldn’t it be strange that workers did not have vases in this situation?

Companies that make workers sick also make residents sick.

Since the union was established, there have been several complaints about the violation of environmental laws by Daeyang Paperboard. From the 18th to the 22nd of last month, the Yeongsan River Basin Environment Agency conducted an on-site inspection on the suspicion of unauthorized discharge of wastewater from the Daeyang cardboard. Three facts were confirmed: wastewater discharge, undeclared air emissions, and undeclared waste treatment facilities installation and operation. The Yeongsan River Basin Environment Agency announced that it would send the case to the Public Prosecutor’s Office if it is necessary to take judicial action, and notify the competent local government of the subject of administrative complaints such as fines for immediate improvement.

Daeyang Group is a large company that accounts for 23% of domestic corrugated cardboard supply. However, they do not try to take on any social responsibility that is commensurate with that. Rather, they are doing all kinds of evasion and illegality without hesitation to pursue their own profit. The bigger problem is that our laws and systems are so tolerant of their actions that these crimes are repeated.

The case of Daeyang cardboard clearly shows that if workers are sick or injured, but cannot express their voice properly, such damage can lead to secondary damage that destroys not only the factory but also the lives of local residents. Can’t tolerate it any longer. Our society should think together so that we can properly hold accountable for the illegality and evasion of the Daeyang Cardboard and fulfill our ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’.


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