KEB tries to woo its staff to accept Hana merger

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KEB tries to woo its staff to accept Hana merger

Korea Exchange Bank is once again appealing to its labor union to accept an early merger with Hana Bank.

Since July 12, when the top management of the bank along with other executives at Hana Financial Group agreed on the merger, KEB management has sent 11 notifications to the bank’s union leaders requesting their cooperation.

According to KEB yesterday, its branch managers as well as 338 employees who have requested transfers to KEB Card have agreed to support an early merger.

“This is the first time that ordinary employees who are not branch managers or executives have supported the early merger of [KEB and Hana SK] credit card operation,” KEB said in a released statement yesterday. “This is the opposite of the stance of the KEB union, which has opposed strongly the spinoff of the credit card unit and merger.”

The statement added that the fact that employees who will be working at the unified credit card company want a merger within this year validates the overall merger of Hana and KEB.

The bank said its President Kim Han-jo has been trying to step up communication with employees who might be concerned about their job security and working conditions once the merger takes place.

KEB said since late June and up until July 21, Kim met with 670 heads of departments at its headquarters and took branch heads out to drink beer. He also met 636 employees in 14 meetings through Aug. 4.

On Aug. 5, Kim even made a personal visit to the union office and tried to explain that there will be no disadvantages imposed on KEB employees. He told them that he will personally see to it that job guarantees and a fair working environment are secured in the bank’s negotiation with Hana Financial Group.

The bank said Hana has maintained an open personnel process and will continue to do so.

Among the 51 top executives at Hana Bank, only 8, or 15.7 percent, started their careers at Hana. The rest are executives who came from other banks that were merged into Hana Bank over the years including Boram Bank and Seoul Bank. Only 168, or 15.3 percent, of 1,095 vice manager -level employees started their careers at Hana.

But KEB’s union remains strong in its opposition to the merger while pressing Hana Financial Group to keep its promise made in 2012 when it purchased a majority stake of the bank to guarantee independent management for the next five years.

The issue was first brought up early last month when Hana Financial Group Chairman Kim Jung-tai mentioned the need for an early merger between the two banks instead of waiting until 2017.

Last month, the Financial Services Commission did not discuss the merger at a regular meeting. That raised speculation that the merger of the two credit card units might be delayed, which could derail Hana and KEB’s plan for a merger within this year.

BY lee ho-jeong []

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