Hanjin ‘murdered’ workers, pols say

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Hanjin ‘murdered’ workers, pols say

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Cho Nam-ho, chairman of Hanjin Heavy Industries, faces harsh criticism yesterday from lawmakers at a National Assembly hearing into the shipbuilder’s months-long labor crisis. By Kim Hyung-soo

Continuing their offensive against the nation’s conglomerates at a National Assembly hearing yesterday, ruling and opposition party lawmakers ripped into the chairman of Hanjin Heavy Industries, Cho Nam-ho, for “having murdered his employees with massive layoffs.”

The Environment and Labor Committee’s hearing into the months-long labor crisis that has plagued one of the country’s largest shipbuilders came a day after the Federation of Korean Industries and its chairman found themselves under fire from lawmakers for conglomerates’ business practices.

Lawmakers yesterday challenged Cho’s assertion that the layoffs were unavoidable, pointing out that Hanjin was recording profits at the time, and they criticized the chairman for trying to avoid testifying at the hearing.

Calling the layoffs “an act of murder,” Representative Chung Dong-young, of the Democratic Party, played a video showing the funerals of two Hanjin workers who committed suicide in protest of layoffs in 2003.

“This is why you are at this hearing today,” Chung said. Cho, his head lowered, said, “I will make sure it will never happen again. I apologize to the surviving families.”

The saga of the Hanjin layoffs began in December 2010, when the shipbuilder let go 400 assembly-line workers. Its 1,100-member labor union began striking in protest until June - 190 days later - at Hanjin’s Yeongdo shipyard in Busan after the company agreed to pay severance to all of the fired workers.

But the protests soon snowballed into a rallying cry for the nation’s labor unions. Labor activists and students launched a series of massive demonstrations, dubbed “Bus for Hope” rallies, against the shipbuilder.

Kim Jin-suk, a former Hanjin employee and senior member of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has become a symbol for the labor unrest, climbing up and barricading herself in a crane at Hanjin’s shipyard since Jan. 6.

Kim figured into yesterday’s hearing when Chung abruptly tried to telephone her, saying that “it is in Cho’s hand to save her” before dialing Kim on his cell phone and putting it up to the microphone.

But GNP lawmakers stopped the call as she began to speak, saying that they had called Kim to the hearing but she refused to show up to instead stage political theater with the DP.

The commotion disrupted the hearing for about 10 minutes.

While GNP and DP lawmakers diverged in their view of Kim and the Bus for Hope rallies, they presented a united front in attacking Cho.

“Hanjin Heavy Industries recorded a total net profit of 420 billion won [$360 million] from 2001 to 2009,” said GNP Representative Chang Je-won. “I don’t see any reason to fire 1,300 workers over the past two years.”

Chang also said that Hanjin paid the lowest average wages in the shipbuilding industry.

Representative Hong Hee-deok, of the Democratic Labor Party, pointed out that Hanjin has paid out 44 billion won in dividends over three years since 2009, despite Cho’s claim that the shipbuilding industry was in a slump starting in 2008.

But Cho defended himself, saying that his company’s crisis was real and that it never paid dividends in cash. He said the cash dividends were only paid to shareholders of the four affiliates that recorded profits last year, while Hanjin Heavy Industries paid nothing because of its deficit.

Lawmakers also assailed Cho for twice trying to skip the hearing. Hanjin had said that Cho was out of the country from June 17 until Aug. 7 to win shipbuilding orders, but Cho’s immigration records, given to lawmakers yesterday, showed that he returned to the country on July 13 before leaving for the United States on July 27 and returning on Aug. 7.

The lawmakers had to cancel two previously scheduled hearings for Cho because of his absence.

“You have escaped to dodge the hearing,” said GNP Representative Sohn Beom-kyu. “You also failed to take initiative to resolve the dispute although you were in the country. Your actions turned the situation into a hot political mess and made the people skeptical about capitalism. This is antisocial action that has ruined social unity.”

Cho yesterday apologized for causing unnecessary misunderstanding with his business trip. He, however, stood by his decision to layoff the workers, repeating his promise to do his best to rehire them once the company is stabilized.

“To resolve urgent management issues at the company, I still need some time,” Cho said. “Even if we win an order right now, it will take an average of 13 months for employees to begin their work.”


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

‘즉답 말고 어눌하게 …’ 조남호 답변 커닝

국회 한진중 청문회

조남호 한진중공업 회장이 18일 청문회 증언대에 섰다. 6월 17일 국회 환경노동위원회가 한진중공업 청문회 증인으로 채택한 지 63일 만이다.

 조 회장은 6월 17일 이후 “해외에서 수주활동을 벌였다”던 해명과 달리 지난달 13~27일엔 국내에 있었던 사실도 드러난 상태라 증인선서가 끝나자마자 한나라당 청문위원들조차 그를 향해 ‘악덕 기업’ ‘부도덕한 기업인’ 등의 원색적 비난을 쏟아냈다.

 ▶한나라당 이범관 의원=국내에 있으면서도 노사문제 해결에 나서지 않은 건 아주 부도덕한 기업인의 모습 아닌가. 지난해엔 대량 정리해고를 하면서도 주주에겐 주식 174억원, 현금 52억원을 배당하고, 임원 연봉도 1억원이나 올렸다.

 ▶민주당 이미경 의원=2009년 2900명이던 직원 수가 1400명도 남지 않았다. 하청직원까지 4500명이 잘렸다. 책임을 느끼지 않나.

 한나라당 장제원 의원은 조선업계 연봉(현대중공업 평균 7500만원, 삼성 7000만원, STX 6600만원, 한진중공업 4500만원)을 제시하며 “임금 수준이 가장 낮은데도 정리해고를 거부하고 있는 나머지 94명까지 자르겠다고 하니 정말 악덕기업”이라고 비난했다.

 민주당 정동영 의원은 청문회장에서 조 회장에게 2003년 크레인에서 농성하다 자살한 이 회사의 김주익 전 노조위원장 등의 장례식 동영상을 보여주며 “증인이 죽인 사람들”이라고 주장하기도 했다. “증인은 재벌 아들로 태어나 해고 없는 인생을 살았는데, 해고는 살인이다. 더 이상 사람을 죽이지 말라”고도 했다.

 이에 조 회장은 “(전 노조위원장의 자살은) 본인이 제대로 인지(認知)를 못하고, 오늘 의원님께서 질타하시는 야단을 받아들이겠다”고 했다. 해외 체류라고 밝혔던 기간 중 국내에 있었던데 대해선 “본의 아니게 심려와 불편을 끼쳐 이 자리를 빌려 사과드린다”고 고개를 떨어뜨렸다.

 하지만 노조 측의 정리해고자 ‘선(先) 복직’ 요구 등은 수용할 수 없다는 입장을 분명히 했다.

 조 회장은 “개인적으로 회사를 떠나신 분들을 내일 당장이라도 모셔오고 싶지만 회사의 긴박한 경영문제를 해결하기 위해선 최소한의 시간이 필요하다”며 “당장 수주를 해도 인력을 투입해 선박을 건조하기까진 평균 13개월 이상이 소요된다”고 해명했다. 다만 조 회장은 “제반 사정을 감안해 합리적 시간(3년)을 제시했으나 일정을 단축하기 위해 최대한 노력하겠다. 회사가 조기에 정상화된다면 복직을 앞당기겠다”고 약속했다.

 이날 청문회 도중 정동영 의원은 “이 사람을 살리고 죽이는 것은 증인의 손에 달렸다”며 한진중공업 크레인 농성자인 김진숙 민주노총 지도위원에게 휴대전화를 걸었다. “제가 이 크레인에서 225일 보내는 것보다 절망했던 것이…”라고 말하는 김진숙 위원의 목소리가 청문회장에 울리자 한나라당 의원들은 “정치 쇼하지 말라”(장제원 의원)며 반발했다. 정 의원도 책상을 치면서 “김진숙이 뭐가 두렵냐”고 맞고함쳐 청문회는 10분간 중단됐다.

 조 회장이 청문회장에서 답변전략이 담긴 문건을 보는 장면이 사진기자들에게 촬영되기도 했다. 문건에는 ‘눈을 감았다 뜨고 심호흡 등 답변속도 조절해서 템포를 줄일 것. 인내력과의 싸움임’ ‘지루할 정도로 느리고 다소 어눌하게 답변’ ‘즉답지양, 뜸을 들일 것’ 등이 적혀 있었다. 또 ‘똑똑하고 날카로운 인상 지양. 겸손한 자세’라거나 ‘ 아무래도 저희 회사가 제일 고통스러운 것을 이해해주시기 바랍니다’라고 대답하라는 ‘지침’도 있었다.

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