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Samsung unit raided over union sabotage

After-sales affiliate accused of monitoring workers it didn’t trust
Apr 07,2018
Prosecutors raided the headquarters of Samsung Electronics Service in Suwon, Gyeonggi, Friday to search for evidence that Samsung Group tried to sabotage worker efforts to establish stronger unions at its affiliates, reopening a case from 2015 that cleared the family-run behemoth of suspicion.

Investigators and prosecutors from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office arrived at the after-sales repair arm of Samsung Electronics on Friday morning and confiscated computer hard disks, documents and cell phones from employees.

The raid was conducted after prosecutors found nearly 6,000 pages of documents at the headquarters of Samsung Electronics in February depicting ways to dissolve labor unions at Samsung affiliates, including Samsung Electronics Service. The confidential dossier was retrieved during a raid by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in a separate probe that looked into a corruption scandal linked to former President Lee Myung-bak.

Prosecutors at the time were investigating whether the conglomerate paid nearly 7 billion won ($6.6 million) for a local auto parts maker, DAS, run by Lee’s relatives, in a U.S. lawsuit in 2009. DAS raised the suit against a businessman to recoup its investment in his U.S.-based investment advisory firm.

Lee pardoned Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee in December 2009 after the business tycoon was convicted of creating slush funds and given a three-year suspended sentence, leading prosecutors to wonder whether the payment was in return for the special pardon.

Among the 6,000-page document discovered in February, according to prosecutors, was the 100-page secret file disclosed in October 2013 by Rep. Sim Sang-jung of the left-leaning Justice Party.

At the time, Sim revealed that Samsung specified ways to prevent the formation of stronger unions by marking every move of “problematic employees,” considered likely to attempt to form new unions, creating what looked like an “encyclopedia” of their personal information and whereabouts.

Samsung’s union and progressive civic groups filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutors’ office against Lee, accusing him of violating domestic union laws. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office opened a probe, but concluded in early 2015 that the compilation of the dossier was not illegal, and that the source was murky.

Based on the latest discovery last February, prosecutors said Samsung was keeping a close eye on employees at Samsung Electronics Service and trying to dissuade them from joining the company’s labor union.

Prosecutors said they were planning to summon top-rank workers at Samsung and the group’s union members soon after they go through the confiscated goods from the raid on Friday.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]