Even if other factory employees participate in the assembly, the court “fair union activity”

▲ A view of the Seoul Administrative Court in Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul.

A court ruled that even if an employee of another business site of the same company entered the factory and attended the assembly, it would be considered a legitimate union activity under the collective agreement. The purpose is that just because a union member entered the meeting place in response to an employer’s unreasonable restriction on assembly participation due to access regulations cannot be regarded as ‘illegal trespassing’.

Tent installation and assembly at union office non-agreement
Discipline for proceeding without consultation with management

The 11th Administrative Division of the Seoul Administrative Court (Presiding Judge Kang Woo-chan) announced on the 18th that six union members, including Dong-Young Oh, chairman of the Hankook Tire branch of the Korea Metal Workers’ Union, had won a part of the plaintiff’s judgment in favor of the retrial against the Central Labor Relations Commission.

This case started with the issue of ‘providing a union office’ to the Hankook Tire branch, a minority union of Hankook Tire & Technology. The Supreme Court ruled in February 2019 that the failure of the Hankook Tire Labor Union and the management to provide a union office to the branch constituted a violation of the duty of fair representation. After that, the management offered to give the office to the branch, but could not agree on the location of the office until May of the same year.

In response, the branch members held rallies and one-person demonstrations in front of the main building of the Geumsan Plant from February of that year. Then, the management applied for an injunction with the court to ban assemblies and demonstrations in a specific area near the factory’s main building. The court has decided to ban acts that generate noise that exceeds certain standards.

However, three union members, including Chairman Oh Ji, who worked at the Daejeon Plant, informed the management of the assembly plan and entered the Geumsan Plant in May 2019, disobeying the management’s request to remove the tent, and held a tent demonstration.

Six members of the plaintiff’s union also attended the rally held in August. The management then held rallies and demonstrations without consultation and took disciplinary measures such as reduction of pay, warnings, and reprimands to six people for setting up tents.

These six people applied for relief to the Chungnam Provincial Labor Relations Commission, claiming that the disciplinary measures amounted to unfair disciplinary action and unfair labor practices. The Chungcheongnam-do Labor Commission dismissed all of their claims, but the Central Labor Commission ruled that the disciplinary action related to the illegal intrusion of the Geumsan factory was an unfair labor practice of domination and intervention. However, the rest of the disciplinary actions were dismissed as appropriate. The union members then filed a lawsuit against the decision of the retrial in October 2020.

Court “Unfairly restricting the number of people participating in assemblies”
Representative “Disciplinary action is not allowed under the three labor rights violation regulations”

The court ruled that the union members’ participation in the assembly was a legitimate union activity in accordance with the collective agreement, after premised on whether or not illegal trespassing differs depending on whether the assembly participation is a legitimate union activity. It is not an ‘illegal intrusion’ that violates the company’s security management regulations.

The court said, “(The company) imposed an unreasonable restriction on the number of participants on the legitimate union activities of the branch and denied access to the participants who were opposed by the company.” It does not become an ‘illegal invasion’ or ‘illegal invasion’.” It is pointed out that if most of the participants in the assembly are affiliated with the Daejeon plant and if they are restricted from participating, the size of the assembly will be significantly reduced, so it is difficult to see that the company’s refusal to participate is a reasonable restriction.

However, in relation to the ‘installation of the tent’, it was judged that it was not a legitimate union activity because it was done in a way that abruptly evaded access control, infringing the management’s right to manage facilities. The court held that even if the tent was not installed for a long period of time, the opinions of the branch could be reasonably reflected through other methods, so it was difficult to see the necessity and urgency of installing the tent.

Attorney Kim Yoo-jeong (Metal Workers’ Union Court) said, “Even if the management limits the number of people participating in in-house meetings based on a collective agreement, it is a judgment that confirms that if this part violates the constitutional right to organize or to act collectively, disciplinary action cannot be taken for violation of the regulations. “The effect of collective bargaining or internal regulations that impose excessive restrictions on union activities within the company should be interpreted in the context of guaranteeing the three labor rights,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Hankook Tire Branch increased its membership from 800 to 2,300 this year, becoming a majority union. On the 7th, the company requested collective bargaining. In the process of signing the wage agreement ex officio last year, the Hankook Tire Labor Union, the existing bargaining representative union, has been experiencing a series of member departures. Previously, the number of union members of the Hankook Tire Union was around 3,300.


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