|▲ Jeong Ki-hoon/The Labor Today|
The unionized workers of KB Kookmin Bank, one of the largest local banks in Korea, went on a one-day strike on January 8, the first walkout in 19 years since the workers’ strike against the merger of old Kookmin Bank and Housing & Commercial Bank in 2000.
According to the KB Kookmin Bank labor union, about 8,500 unionized workers traveled up to Seoul across the nation to attend a rally on the eve of the strike on January 7 and about 10,000 union members all over the country participated in the walkout on January 8.
The issues in disputes are the age-raise to the wage peak system, the abolition of the pay band system, the additional career recognition for the low-paid workers’(contingent workers) group, and the performance-based pay.
KB Kookmin Bank strongly demanded the labor union to adopt the pay band system which is designed to limit the bank employees, who do not get a position promotion within the laid-out period of service years, from receiving additional seniority-based pay increments. In fact, KB Kookmin Bank applies the pay band system to the bank employees who have been recruited since 2014.
Regarding the career recognition for contingent workers, the bank management and labor union could not narrow their gap to resolve the discrimination issue. KB Kookmin Bank converted about 4,000 contingent bank tellers into regular workers in 2014. However, KB Kookmin Bank only recognized 25 percent of their work experience at the bank, against which the labor union demanded a higher rate so as to increase their pay.
The wage peak system is related to the employment stability. When bank employees reach the age set for the wage peak system, it is generally conceived that they reached a retirement age. It is therefore common to see that workers in this age bracket prefer leaving the bank to being treated with the application of the wage peak system. The labor union demanded to raise the age to the wage peak system to 57 years old, one year higher from 56 years old which was agreed by the industry-based collective bargaining in the financial industry.
It is reported that facing a walkout, the bank management proposed the labor union an offer of 300 percent of the ordinary wage as the performance-based pay to the workers, on the condition that the labor union will accept the contentious issues of the wage peak system, the pay band system, and career recognition for contingent workers. The labor union denounced the arrogant attitude of the bank that “the bank seems to hold on to the wage discriminatory system in order to easily control the workers and weaken the labor union, by offering money to the workers not to make a fuss.”
reported by Jeh Jeong-nam
translated by Kim Sung-jin
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