Banks agree with unions on lunch and other points

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Banks agree with unions on lunch and other points

Computer screens of bank tellers will automatically turn off during lunch time starting next month to ensure the workers take a lunch break, ending a dispute between banks and labor unions.

The country’s major banks, including KB Kookmin and Woori, will ensure an hour-long lunch time, following their collective negotiation earlier this month.

“Management of KB Kookmin Bank agreed on an hour-long lunch time, and it will come into effect in February,” said KB Kookmin Bank’s labor union in a statement last week.

The Korean Financial Industry Union, an umbrella labor union of banks operating in Korea, proposed in August that all institutions shut between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. to ensure employees have an hour-long lunch break. Bank workers are often forced to cut lunch hours short in shifts so they can continue to serve clients, the union said.

Instead of closing the banks, the two parties at KB, the country’s largest bank, appeared to find a middle ground so tellers could take lunch in shifts. Besides the lunch hour, KB’s labor union also managed to win major demands, including the delay of a wage system designed for senior workers.

The two sides agreed that the peak wage will be applied to employees from age 56, which is one year later than the government standard of 55. Previously, the bank maintained that the starting age be 55.

The wage peak system involves a gradual reduction in salary when senior employees pass a certain age. The initial dispute led to a one-day strike involving more than 5,000 KB workers.

The company and its union, however, don’t see eye to eye over an expansion of a wage system that caps increases if a worker keeps on failing to be promoted. The union said that the system should be abolished.

Rival Shinhan Bank also struck agreements on the rate of compensation and expansion of parental leave. The rate is set at 300 percent of a base salary while parental break increased to 10 days from 5 days when a wife gives birth.

Woori Bank will ensure 10 days of parental leave. It will provide increased transportation expenses for remote commuters.

KEB Hana Bank employees with a child entering primary school will be allowed to start work at 10 a.m., an hour later than the standard starting time, during March, the first month of the school calendar.

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