SC First Bank opens shuttered branches

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SC First Bank opens shuttered branches

SC First Bank said yesterday it reopened an additional nine branches that had been temporarily closed by a labor strike over its proposed merit pay system.

Chung Han-young, a bank spokesman, said that the bank resumed operations yesterday at eight branches in Seoul and one unit near the capital, raising the total number of reopened branches to 22.

With the latest reopenings, more than half of the 42 previously shuttered branches have resumed operations.

“Whether or not we open additional branches will depend on how the current situation [surrounding work slowdowns] unfolds,” Chung noted.

SC First Bank is the first lender operating in Korea to seek an overhaul of the seniority-based salary scheme. Its unionized workers, who account for about half of its 6,500 employees, vehemently oppose the move, claiming that it is aimed at cutting labor costs and does not jibe with Korean culture.

More than 2,500 unionized workers launched a work stoppage in late June to protest the merit pay scheme, causing the bank to temporarily shut down about 10 percent of its nearly 400 branches. It began reopening branches on Sept. 8.

After a two-month strike, unionized workers returned to work on Aug. 29 but have since staged a slowdown and held sporadic strikes.

Meanwhile, Richard Hill, chief executive of SC First Bank, will speak before lawmakers today at a parliamentary audit session to be led by the labor committee. It is widely expected that Hill will explain the bank’s position regarding the labor stoppage.

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