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SC First Bank reopens more branches after labor strike

SC First Bank, the South Korea unit of Standard Chartered Plc, said Tuesday that it has reopened a total of 27 branches that had been temporarily closed due to a labor strike over the introduction of a merit pay system.

SC First Bank has resumed operations at 27 of the 42 shuttered branches, a bank spokeswoman said.

But there is no timetable for reopening the other branches and developments will depend on how the ongoing labor dispute unfolds.

SC First Bank is the first lender operating in South Korea to seek an overhaul of the seniority-based salary scheme. Its unionized workers, who account for about half of its 6,500 bank employees, vehemently oppose the move, claiming that it is aimed merely at cutting labor costs and does not jibe with Korean culture.

More than 2,500 unionized workers launched a work stoppage in late June to protest against the merit pay scheme, causing the bank to temporarily shut down about 10 percent of its nearly 400 branches. It began reopening branches on Sept. 8.

After two months of the labor strike, unionized workers returned to work on Aug. 29 but have been staging a slowdown and have held sporadic strikes.

Meanwhile, bank officials said earlier this month that SC First Bank will soon change its name to Standard Chartered Bank Korea, a move that comes as part of efforts to strengthen the link between the local bank and its parent group. 

(Yonhap News)
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