Park blasts corruption at top public companies

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Park blasts corruption at top public companies

President Park Geun-hye yesterday reprimanded lax management styles at the nation’s top public companies and blasted efforts by corrupt labor unions to resist reforms for their own benefit.

“According to the official reports on public companies, the lax management of public organizations is serious and hard to understand,” Park said yesterday at a meeting with senior presidential secretaries, which was partially open to the press.

“Particularly, we found that the top 12 companies with the highest debt have spent a total of 300 billion won [$280 million] providing welfare expenses to their employees. Some of them even provided expensive scholarships for their children to attend overseas schools and gave money to their families for dental treatment.

“In this situation, it is seriously worrisome that labor unions are attempting to form an alliance to protest reforms at public companies, and the public should not tolerate their plans,” she continued.

“While people are tightening their belts amid a sluggish economy, the labor unions are trying to keep their benefits. We have a responsibility to reveal their actions to the public.”

Several former presidents declared war on corruption at public companies, though all failed to produce any meaningful results.

The threat from labor unions to strike is a primary concern, and many corporation heads fear a nationwide walkout could lead to a paralysis of the country’s basic infrastructure.

The practice of choosing parachute appointments, people who are put in place by the president to run public companies, also contributes to graft. Many have little prior experience or knowledge of their responsibilities and are unsuccessful in combating the actions of major labor unions.

Park pointed out that another factor in corruption in the public sector stems from behind-the-scenes contracts signed by management and labor unions that secretly expand welfare benefits for company employees.

“It is impossible to regulate public companies without [eradicating] hidden contracts,” the president said. “This time, we should thoroughly root out the practice of giving excessive welfare benefits [to employees] through these contracts.


BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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