SUMMARY of PSOCO's refusal to rehire SSSTU workers

On December 26, 1996, the POSCO publicized it would take over partial facilities of Sammi Specialty Steel Co., and it concluded the contract for property sale with SSSC on February 17, 1997. And in terms of employees and unions, the POSCO management ignored the collective agreement which lasted for more than 10 years, to selectively rehire part of Sammi workers.

The takeover of Sammi Special Steel by POSCO was a de facto business takeover, that is, POSCO took over all the facilities and workers of Sammi steel company. Nevertheless, the POSCO concluded the contract of purchase and aquisition(P&A). Subsequently, Sammi workers had to accept the "re-admission" procedure to POSCO selectively, in the course of which those workers were denied by the new management who used to be active in the union activities and who had been branded as trouble-makes by the management.

As a result, two thousand out of total workforce 2,342(including non-union managerial officers) were driven to the street. At that time, average Sammi workers, in their forties, were in 15 years' service for the company. In their families, it was a very important time to raise their children.

The reason was clear why the POSCO refused to rehire Sammi union leaders and activists: POSCO didn't want any independent and democratic union, thereby sticking to its existing NON-UNION policy. So this is the first case in which the employers utilized the P&A method for union busting in business transfer. Therefore this case was a potential threat for Korean workers at large.

In a word, the government-invested POSCO trampled one of the basic labor rights guaranteed in the Constitution and ILO conventions: the right to organize. By the P&A contract, the POSCO could eliminate the union, nullify the collective agreement, hard-won standard for working conditions, and dismiss all the possible trouble makers.

In protest of these unfair treatment by POSCO management, 200 Sammi workers have carried out robust struggle for their reinstatement more than 3 years.

First of all, dismissed workers initiated the legal actions. Both local labor relations committee and central labor relations committee made the decision that all the dismissed workers be reinstated.

In response, the POSCO brought an appeal to the Seoul High Court. However, it passed a judgment that workers demands are right. Despite a series of defeats, the POSCO brought a final appeal to the Supreme Court, instead of implementing the court decision.

Last three years, Sammi workers walked around the street, continuing their struggle for reinstatement. These three years is very harsh times for the dismissed workers and their families. In the course of struggle, now a few families were in trouble. One worker of 41 years old, Lee Kwangsu, committed suicide after tough years of divorce and re-marriage. And many workers are physically suffering from such diseases as gastritis and hepatitis, and family debts are growing. Their families lost happiness, and have survived day by day by earnings from their wives.

Furthermore, the government has repressed workers in various ways, like arrest, detention, fine, custody and so on, while it has left intact the POSCO management who refused to implement the reinstatement decisions.

In short, this case shows how the giant capital and the state destroy the basic lives of workers. The essence of this incident is the anti-worker and anti-human stance of the state and capital.