Lee Sang-hoon, Electronics Chairman of Samsung has been found guilty of violating South Korea’s labor union laws and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Prosecutors said that Lee, along with around 24 other current and former Samsung officials, used a variety of tactics to discourage union activity, including threatening to cut wages and withdrawing business to union-friendly subcontractors.
Lee was charged with leading an operation to sabotage a newly formed labor group at Samsung’s customer-service unit in 2013 when he was chief financial officer. Samsung’s executive vice president Kang Kyung-hoon was also sentenced to 18 months for violating the country’s labor law.
Samsung Electronics and Samsung C&T said in a joint statement, “We humbly accept that the companies’ understanding and view toward labor unions in the past fell short of society’s expectations. We will endeavor to build a forward-looking and productive labor-management relationship based on respect for our employees.”
While the board chairman has a limited role in the day-to-day operations of the company, the sentencing is another blow to top management at South Korea’s biggest company. The company’s vice chairman, Jay Y. Lee, resigned from his board seat in October as he fights bribery charges that could land him back in jail.