Oracle Korea Workers Union strike over unfair wage policies
Seoul, Korea – After failing to reach an agreement with Oracle Korea’s management, the President of Oracle Korea Workers Union, Bro Kim Chul-Soo, announced that the union is compelled to go on a strike from May 16 to 18. Bro Kim also said that if the company will not change its position over its currently unfair and opaque wage policies, the union may consider to go on an indefinite strike.
Oracle is the world’s second largest software maker and a leading global business-to-business technology providers. However it has a reputation of being a dinosaur among tech circles. Unfortunately for tech workers, it’s fossilised reputation encompasses discriminatory human resource practices. Just last year in 2017, it was sued in the United States by former female employees for paying females less than what males received in similar jobs.
Such practices appears to be also prevalent among its global branches. After having been in Korea for 28 years, the company only finally saw its first workers union formed in October 2017. The union’s founding stemmed from widespread concerns over the unfair and opaque wage system and increasing employment threats over the migration to cloud services. To date, the Oracle Korea Workers Union counts 540 union members out of a total of 1,170 Oracle employees.
The union held with the management 17 rounds of negotiation over 154 days. There were four main areas of contention - wage increase, providing time off for full time union officials and union office, transparent and fair management of discplinary and punishment committee, and better welfare benefits for workers. Regrettably, the management proved unmovable in the face of sincere talks. The union had no choice but to declare the negotiation as broken on April 11 and referred the matter to the Central Labour Commission on April 17.
Given this environment, Oracle Korea Workers Union under Korea Finance and Clerical Workers Labor Union (KFCLU) declared to take an industrial action from May 14 by no participation in the meetings before 9 am and after 6 pm, and to reject any work requests on holiday and weekend. From May 16 to 18, all union members will participate in a general strike action.
Pointing to the fact that despite huge profits made by the company, Bro Kim Chul-Soo, President of Oracle Korea Workers Union, said that majority of the Oracle workers suffered a decrease in real wages over the last decade because there was no official wage increase. Furthermore, about 100 workers were unfairly dismissed in 2017 or forced to resign with no legitimate basis. The company had also failed to recognise full time union officials and they also failed to provide a fair industrial accident insurance benefits coverage for its employees.
UNI Apro Regional Secretary, Christopher Ng expressed his concerns over the strike action. He said “It is a pity that despite being at the technological forefront, and in spite of the improving labour climate in Korea, Oracle Korea’s human resource practices looks to be stuck in the 20th century. The issue of social and income inequality is being increasingly scrutinised at the global level, and at the enterprise level, unions remains one of the best dialogue partner to ensure a fair resolution”.
UNI Apro ICTS Director, Kun Wardana also calls on the Oracle Korea’s management to reconsider its position and adopt a more open mind toward negotiating with the union. UNI Global Union has sent a letter of concern to Oracle’s management as well as a letter of solidarity to the Oracle Korea Workers Union.