A new MSD Korea labor union has kicked off. The new union consists of employees who have recently left the MSD branch of the Korea Democratic Pharmaceutical Union (KDPU).
Originally, MSD Korea formed its first labor union last year and became the 17th member of the KDPU. Since then, they had negotiated with the company's management as a single union.
Since September, however, there has been a movement to form a new independent union, which, in turn, has led most of the MSD Korea branch members to decide to leave the KDPU and create their own trade union.
The majority of executive committee members from the KDPU's MSD Korea branch, except its leader, and nearly 80 percent of unionists have already joined the new union.
The new union has secured the representative right to conduct collective bargaining as it represents the most members. As the new union is not affiliated with the KDPU, the new executive members will take the lead in the negotiation with the company's management. Currently, there are about 280 MSD Korea employees who have joined the new union.
Most of the members are said to have decided to move to the new labor union after raising complaints against KDPU's actions.
To commemorate its establishment, the union held its first meeting to elect its representatives and shared its goals on Dec. 5.
"The MSD labor union will put a priority on the needs of MSD, and work to improve the economic benefits and social status of employees in line with the MSD environment," said Shim Sang-nam, the leader of new MSD Korea Labor Union. "In recent years, the need for a democratic and ethical union has emerged, and several problems have been identified continuously, which, in turn, has led to the demand for an alternative union from the MSD employees."
As a short-term goal, the union decided to negotiate for competitive wage levels, compensate for late payments, establish a foundation for extended late work, and a system to respond to the company's irrational decisions.
The long-term goals of the union included establishing a salary system and well-being in keeping with MSD’s reputation, creating a culture that guarantees retirement age, and making a workplace in which employees can work and grow with the company.
In line with such goals, the union has conducted five negotiations with the management since Oct. 31. The union is negotiating the payment of overdue wages and the annual salary increase for 2019 to 2020.
Concerning wage delinquency, the union is demanding to pay for the weekend overtime that has been unpaid for five years from 2014 to 2018.
"The company did not pay us for overtime work, such as company work done on weekends," a union member said. "We have requested payment for such work to the company."
The union estimates that the wage overdue over the past five years will exceed roughly 5 billion won ($4.2 million) and is collecting evidence for the exact overdue amounts from employees. After five negotiations, the management also reportedly expressed a willingness to resolve the demands of the union.
"In the coming weeks, we decided to conclude both unpaid wage issue and salary increase rate with the management," the union member said. "We expect a compromise before the end of this year."
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