Samsung Electronics has issued an apology over its historical anti-labour union stance following the conviction of its chairman on Tuesday (December 17) for sabotaging union activities.
Lee Sang-hoon, who served as Samsung Electronics’ chief financial officer before becoming chairman of the board two years ago, has been charged with violating labour laws by deterring staff from operating a union, a Seoul court has ruled.
The chairman, who is one of more than two dozen current and former Samsung officials and others involved in the case, has now been jailed for 18 months.
Prosecutors said Sang-hoon and others had led an operation to dismantle the labor union at the company’s customer-service unit, which included ordering subordinates to cut union members' wages and to gather personal information on union members, such as marital status, mental-health histories, pregnancies and debt, among other tactics.
Tuesday's ruling brings a close to a multi-year investigation over Samsung's dealings with labor unions dating back to 2013.
Samsung Electronics released a joint statement Wednesday morning with Samsung C&T Corp, saying: "We humbly accept that the companies' understanding and view towards labour unions in the past fell short of society's expectations."
"We will endeavour to build a forward-looking and productive labour-management relationship based on the respect for our employees," the statement went on.
It is the latest in a string of legal battles Samsung has found itself in, following the conviction of its vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong of bribery and embezzlement in connection with a scandal involving South Korea’s former president. The Samsung heir spent one year in jail for his charges, and was released in February 2018. But in August the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the case, with a decision expected in 2020.