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KLES program helps city-run business to resolve conflicts among labor unions

Ansan Urban Corp. officials pose for a photograph at the company‘s office in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)
Ansan Urban Corp. officials pose for a photograph at the company‘s office in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)

Ansan Urban Corp., a corporation run by the local government of Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, is resolving labor-management conflicts and improving workplace culture with the aid of the Korea Labor and Employment Service. The service, a state-run organization under the Ministry of Employment and Labor, offers a wide range of services to help local firms solve a range of labor-involved issues.

Ansan Urban Corp. is one of several companies that have successfully improved their labor-management relations through the public organization’s program.

Relations at Ansan Urban Corp. had worsened after the company’s union separated into three different bodies in 2019, KLES explained.

The unions failed to come to a consensus that would provide a basis for negotiations with management.

As a result, labor-management discussions were paralyzed. The conflict among the unions also jeopardized the city-run corporation’s public functions as well, KLES added.

In 2019, Ansan Urban Corp. sought help from KLES, and the service implemented its Labor-Management Partnership Support Program to help alleviate conflicts among the unions, as well as those between labor and management.

KLES tested several measures at Ansan Urban Corp. to improve the company’s work environment and labor-management relations.

The service first decided to address issues involving emotional burnout that employees at the company’s call center experience.

KLES advised the company to hold a series of workshops for workers at the call center to collect opinions about their working environment. Workers engaged in extensive discussions at the workshop and asked for protective measures against customers who insult or abuse them.

Ansan Urban Corp.’s labor and management agreed to create a system to protect call center workers exposed to verbal abuse. The company, as part of its solution, pledged to record calls to take follow-up actions against people who abuse its workers.

Under the supervision of KLES, Ansan Urban Corp. also decided to improve the wages and employment conditions of nonregular workers.

Previously, the wages of nonregular workers remained the same regardless of how many years they had worked at the company.

Ansan Urban Corp. agreed to introduce a promotion system for nonregular workers and held meetings to explain the new wages system, which became effective this year.

Meanwhile, Ansan Urban Corp. also introduced a task force that consists of representatives from both the labor and management camps.

Through the task force, officials from both sides were able to meet and share their opinions more often, KLES explained. It was through this task force that different labor unions and management reached a breakthrough on wage bargaining, KLES added.

Separately, KLES helped representatives from labor and management to join volunteer activities in which they could casually talk about pressing issues at the company.

Officials from the company’s labor unions said the labor and management sides became closer through a series of meetings and group activities.

“Conflicts between labor and management would have persisted without support from KLES,” an official from the company’s management said. “The company will continue to increase efforts to discuss corporate matters with labor unions.”

By Shim Woo-hyun (
Korea Herald Youtube