A contentious strikeThe CJ Logistics headquarters building in downtown Seoul has been under occupancy of a nationwide courier union aligned with the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) for two weeks with a strike extending to 58 days. Banners calling for CJ Group Chairman Lee Jae-hyun to come out to negotiations hang outside the building whose front is covered by tents for unionists. A placard from the Justice Party (JP) in support of the strike also hangs nearby. Posters with Lee’s face were thrashed on the streets for people to stomp on. Nearby buildings bore independent banners supporting nationalization of courier service.
CJ Logistics urged the law enforcement authority to take action as “illegalities and violence unthinkable in a law-abiding democracy are taking place.” The police have not acted out to protect the employer despite the situation getting worse. The unionists went on with rallies after borrowing the way the outdoor campaigns of the presidential candidate of JP to avoid breaking the quarantine rule that keeps heads per outdoor rallies to 299. Unionists blocked the entry of the company’s biggest logistics center in Gonjiam, Gyeonggi, on Tuesday, the busiest day for weekly deliveries. The Gongiam center is Asia’s largest, handling 2.5 million deliveries on a daily basis.
The damage from a lengthened strike has snowballed. The company estimates a 1-billion-won ($831,950) loss a day from the union’s occupation of the headquarters building. Due to the strike by unionists that take up only 8 percent of total courier payroll on CJ Logistics, work for the lion’s share non-union workers has thinned.
The union agreed to hold dialogue with the outlet association of CJ Logistics for the first time instead of dealing directly with CJ Logistics management. The company welcomed the union for finally turning to dialogue with the outlet association, which is the legal employer of delivery workers, but condemned the unionists’ acts of illegalities such as blocking the logistics center transport.
The company has filed criminal charges against union members for invading the headquarters building and repeatedly called for stricter law enforcement. It has asked the police to examine if the striking unionists were keeping to quarantine regulations. But the authorities have not responded.
The frustrated company filed for an injunction with the Seoul Central District Court to force the unions to end the strike disturbing everyday work and leave the headquarters building. It has turned to the court because the government has failed to play its role. Taking a political conflict to the court and a government neglecting its duty to protect civilian rights so as not to irk the union ahead of the election are both serious threats to the separation of three powers.