Cops: Salaried union execs drew unemployment

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Cops: Salaried union execs drew unemployment

Executives of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions reportedly collected unemployment fees while drawing salaries from the union, sparking a new scandal at an organization already under fire for alleged illegal political involvement with the Democratic Labor Party.

Seoul’s Yeongdeungpo Police said yesterday that the umbrella union’s vice chairman, Noh, 39, and Park, 39, a division head at the Korean Federation of Private Service Workers’ Unions, collected 3.5 million won ($3,000) and 4.3 million won in government unemployment payments, respectively, while both were receiving salaries from the Service Workers’ Union.

In addition, police said Gang, 41, the Service Workers’ Union’s chairman, is suspected of instructing the pair to collect unemployment and deposit the money into the federation’s account, promising that their salaries would be raised if they did so.

The scam continued from September 2009 until January of this year, according to the police investigation.

The Seoul Regional Labor Administration reported the executives to the Yeongdeungpo police, who said all three admitted their wrongdoing.

“This is a new form of illegal payment collecting, in which the Federation of Private Service Workers’ Unions is suspected to have actively led executives to collect unemployment fees,” said Ryu Gyeong-hui, a division head at the Seoul labor administration who reported the executives. He said that it is extremely rare to see an organization or company head actively asking its employees to collect unjustified unemployment fees. “Those involved in this case must be punished severely, so that this kind of conduct will arouse public attention,” he said

The Seoul labor administration added that the executives “didn’t think much of” the criminal scale of their act.

KCTU spokesman Jeong Ho-hui said that police have just begun their investigation, and it is too early for the union to draw conclusions. He said that the umbrella union will determine how to respond once the police investigation is complete. “We are conducting our own internal investigation separately,” Jeong added.

The union’s public image has suffered since February, when Yeong-deungpo police investigated the KCTU after obtaining evidence that the umbrella union led the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union and the Korean Government Employees’ Union to engage in illegal political activities for the Democratic Labor Party.

By Cho Jae-eun, Kim Jeen-kyung []
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