Tuesday 17 December 2019 3:48 pm

Samsung chairman jailed over union-busting activities

The board chairman of Samsung Electronics has been jailed for 18 months after sabotaging union activities.

Lee Sang-hoon was sentenced by a South Korean court today after violating the country’s labour law alongside 25 other defendants.

Samsung executives had used tactics such as closing sub-contracted firms with active unions, prosecutors said.

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Employees at the South Korean conglomerate were found to have been involved in acquiring sensitive information about union members to convince them to leave the union.

“This is a further signal of change for South Korean judicial system, which previously gave lenient sentences to convicted businessmen,” Park Sang-in, a professor at Seoul National University, told Reuters.

The jury said there were “countless documents” giving details of methods that were used to undermine union activities.

Yonhap news agency quoted the judge as saying: “While Lee claims there were many areas he did not know much about, [we] cannot give him immunity only due to the fact that [he] was not aware of the peripheral areas.”

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The major blow to the tech giant comes days after Samsung vice-president Kang Kyung-hoon was handed a 16-month jail term for similar union-busting activities.

Scrutiny over the company’s corporate governance has also been raised by a corruption scandal involving allegations of bribery charges against Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, who is facing a retrial.

Samsung has not commented on today’s ruling or who will replace its board chairman.