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MBC announcer berates abuse of labor law

July 19,2019
MBC announcer Son Jung-eun on Wednesday criticized a group of contracted announcers at the broadcasting company for allegedly abusing the recent labor law revision to try getting full-time jobs at the company.

“Upon termination of your contracts, you demanded your contracts be continued, [filed an injunction,] and now the company is waiting for the [court’s] decision from the first trial,” Son wrote on her Facebook account Wednesday afternoon. “The company said you should work until the ruling is announced, and that it will pay you for your work in the meantime, but you have labeled the company as a bully, using the law revision to get media spotlight for your personal gain.”

Seven contracted announcers at MBC sued the company for bullying on Tuesday based on the revised Labor Standards Act that specifically bans bullying in the workplace, which went into effect the same day.

They were hired through contracts from 2016 to 2017, when employees at MBC were staging rallies to protest power abuse by executives at the company. This resulted with some employees being fired or moved to different departments. A total of 11 announcer positions were filled in by contracted workers during this time.

But last year, only one of the 11 contracted workers was hired full time and the rest had their contracts terminated. The 10 ended up filing a suit against the company in March for what they called an unfair termination of their contracts. They said the executives, at the time of their employment, made it appear as if they would be hired full-time in due course.

While their termination case has been ongoing in court, seven out of the 10 have continued to work at MBC.

It was these seven who filed for “unequal treatment” at the company on top of the ongoing case as they continue to work at MBC and await the court’s decision.

Their lawyer, Ryu Ha-kyung, told the press on Tuesday that the seven have to work in an isolated space in the MBC headquarters in Mapo District, western Seoul, separate from the rest of the announcers, and that their requests to HR for various tasks go unnoticed.

Son said they were merely playing it up for media spotlight.

“There are actually people out there who are being bullied at work,” Son said. “All you want is to become full-time workers at the company. Look around you, there are people in dire need of protection by this revision. The revision is too important to be snatched away for your gain like this.”

Son was one of the 11 announcers who was temporarily replaced. She was moved to a different department in March 2016 and reinstated as an announcer in December 2017.

“You filled in our positions […] and did not take part in the strike. I do not blame you for this as the executives at the time must have threatened to fire you if you did,” she wrote. “But remember, there were others who were in the same position as you were in, contracted workers, who still went on the strike […] Small changes like that came together to change MBC.”

Employees at MBC, one of three major broadcasting companies in Korea alongside KBS and SBS, went on massive strikes in 2012 and in 2017 to protest alleged abuse of power by executives. In September 2017, Kim Jang-kyom, then-president and CEO of MBC, was interrogated by the Ministry of Employment and Labor for meddling in the news to help the Park Geun-hye government. He received a suspended sentence with other MBC executives for abuse of power in February this year.

BY KWON HYE-RIM, ESTHER CHUNG AND BAE JAE-SUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]