Hyundai Heavy takes its labor union to court

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Hyundai Heavy takes its labor union to court

Hyundai Heavy Industries is filing a suit against its labor union, claiming the union caused some 9 billion won ($7.63 million) of losses through its recent collective action.

The shipbuilder filed a damage suit at the Ulsan District Court Tuesday. Hyundai Heavy’s dockyard is located in Ulsan.

The shipbuilder argues the labor union caused roughly 9.2 billion won worth of damages while protesting against the company’s decision to split into two entities: Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE), an intermediate holding company, and Hyundai Heavy Industries, an operating company.

While a shareholders’ meeting was held on May 31 to approve the decision, the labor union occupied the selected meeting site starting before the actual meeting and damaged objects there including chairs, CCTV and windows, the shipbuilder said.

Hyundai Heavy also claims the labor union incurred some 8.3 billion won worth of losses by illegally striking for over a month, since May 16. A spokesperson from Hyundai Heavy said walkouts during the period are considered illegal as the union did not go through the formal process to start a lawful strike.

On Monday, though, the company filed a suit for damages worth 3 billion won.

“We are starting the suit with damages that can be verified right now,” the spokesperson from the shipbuilder said. “Later we will take additional action for the rest of the damages.”

Ahead of filing the suit, the company applied for the provisional seizure of real estate and bonds belonging to the Hyundai Heavy labor union and its executive committee, consisting of some 10 members on July 8. Ulsan District Court approved the request.

The measure is intended to ensure the company is compensated if it wins the damage suit and the labor union members do not attempt to hide their assets.

The split in May was the first step toward Hyundai Heavy acquiring Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME). The intended merger is still in progress as the shipbuilders need to earn approval from overseas fair trade agencies.

Hyundai Heavy labor union members strongly protested the merger, fearing layoffs and the debt held by DSME.

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