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SC First union prolongs condo strike

Unionized workers at SC First Bank are expected to drag out their strike for an extended period of time in opposition to the management’s push for a performance-based pay system.

The dispute between the management and workers continued as about 3,000 workers went on strike for a fifth day on Friday, leading to customer concerns of a prolonged walkout.

The local unit of Standard Chartered Plc is trying to introduce a performance-based pay scheme to spark competition in the banking sector and raise service quality. Unionized workers have opposed the idea, beginning a second strike on June 27 after staging a one-day strike on May 30.
Striking workers of SC First Bank attend a rally against the introduction of a new wage system at a condominium in Gangwon Province on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)
Striking workers of SC First Bank attend a rally against the introduction of a new wage system at a condominium in Gangwon Province on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)

“I understand that the bank’s headquarters in England is firm on their push for the change. We could take the walkout for an extended period of time if they remain insincere in their negotiating tactics,” said Kim Jae-yul, head of the unionized workers at the bank.

In their efforts to reach a compromise, the management agreed to a 5 percent increase in the average base pay of union workers and the setup of a taskforce to discuss the new pay scheme. But unionists rejected the offer as accepting it would tie them to a performance-based pay system at the start of next year.

Some customers vented discomfort at the tensions at branches across the nation, after more than half of the SC First Bank’s 6,500 employees joined the walkout.

Of the 392 branches, 215 are offering a full range of services. But bank officials said there was no problem in operating normal business such as deposits or withdrawals thanks to the increased use of online banking. Customers wanting to apply for loans were advised to visit a full-service branch, they added.

Some customers expressed their opposition to the strike, reportedly saying the walkout by employees whose average annual salary amounts to more than 80 million won (about $70,000) would not attract support from customers.

Banking sources said a prolonged strike might hurt the bank’s credibility, prompting customers to move to other banks.

The Financial Supervisory Service has been inspecting the bank’s Seoul headquarters and its data processing rooms since June 27 to minimize possible inconveniences caused by the strike.

By Cynthia J. Kim (cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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