18 December 2019

The CEO of Samsung has been jailed for 18 months by the Seoul Central District Court for an aggressive union-busting scheme, after a vice-president of the company was previously jailed for 16 months for a similar plot. We won’t see the same thing in Australia, because most of what Samsung was engaged in is perfectly legal and very common here. For example, Samsung would outsource work and then move it to a new contract if the labour hire company showed signs of unionising — something Australian firms can legally do. And whereas Samsung had to set up a fake union and reach agreements with it, Australian companies can legally make a non-union agreement with a handful of employees before transferring the full workforce to the new corporate entity. Even the worst behaviour — surveillance of union members — has parallels in Australia, with Glencore ordered to end “clandestine and quasi-militaristic” spying on union members by a private security firm “collecting evidence of poor conduct [in their private lives] to be used against employees”. No jail for those bosses.