[Statement] The lay-off of 99 Allianz Life Insurance workers is the responsibility of the Lee Myung-bak government

April 1st, 2008

The administrative committee at Allianz Life Insurance has decided to lay-off the 99 trade union members that have been on strike. This is a clear case of unjust lay-offs and needs to be immediately retracted. Those responsible also need to be held accountable. The 99 workers were all managers of branch offices, but they were legally trade union members with the right to strike. Nevertheless, management decided on their dismissal after the Minster of Labor stated that they "were not subjects that could join a union." The grounds for dismissal were identical to the Minister's comment. In effect, the Minister of Labor has taken sides with the managers and shown a disregard for legal rights that has lead to mass lay-offs.  

Allianz Life Insurance acquired Che-il Life Insurance in 1999, and has gone through a restructuring process that has seen the number of employers decrease to 1600 from 2700. They are now attempting a second round of re-structuring by implementing a performance based pay system. However, the employers and union had previously agreed "to implement a performance based system that is acceptable to both management and union" in 2005 and again in 2006. The strike was sparked when the company broke the agreement in Jan of this year and tried to force through the new wage system.  The breach of agreements between management and employees is itself illegal, as are the lay-offs.  

According to the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, those that have been laid off are sales managers that have only had their titles changed, and "the Ministry of Labor in the past has recognized trade unions formed by sales managers, and recognizes them at most companies as trade union members."  Moreover, Supreme Court rulings in 2003 and 2004 have confirmed that trade union membership of branch managers is legitimate, rendering the Allianz employer's argument that branch managers aren't entitled to basic labor rights because they are part of management groundless.  

Regarding such unjust labor practices by the employers, the Lee Myung-bak government much touted 'principle of the rule of law' has disappeared. What's more, the labor minister has taken the lead in siding with the employers while disregarding basic labor rights, further reinforcing the Lee government's 'principle' of favoring the employers. The KCTU urges the Allianz Life Insurance company to revoke its unjust lay-off of workers and to take back the new performance-based wage scheme which it had uni-laterally forced upon the workers. We also urge the Ministry of Labor to intervene to stop the repression of the workers and call on the government to recognize the unjust nature of the current situation at the company and take measures to correct them. Ignoring such calls will result in the KCTU, in solidarity with the Allianz Life Insurance union and the KCFLU(KOREAN FEDERATION OF CLERICAL & FINANCIAL LABOR UNIONS ), organizing a national struggle on the issue.
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