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BAT Korea agrees to end labor disputes

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Oct. 13, 2014 - 20:51

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British American Tobacco Korea and its labor union have decided to put their differences aside over the next three years to work together for a sustainable future, BAT Korea said Monday.

“We understand the difficulties the tobacco industry faces today as the demand for cigarettes is declining while competition is intensifying,” said Goo Seong-il, the head of BAT Korea’s labor union. “Both the union and management will work to overcome these difficulties and together contribute to the development of the company.”

BAT Korea CEO Guy Meldrum on Monday signed an agreement with Goo outlining the consensus. 
BAT Korea’s CEO Guy Meldrum (left) poses with its labor union leader Goo Seong-il at its head office in Seoul. (BAT Korea) BAT Korea’s CEO Guy Meldrum (left) poses with its labor union leader Goo Seong-il at its head office in Seoul. (BAT Korea)

The tobacco-maker has been working on improving relations with its employees by offering them more opportunities for training, promotion and overseas working experience, the company said.

For instance, BAT Korea has been running its “Operations Growth Academy” since last year as part of programs to foster talented leaders. Through the program, 18 employees from its Sacheon Factory completed Mini MBA courses at Pusan National University.

Further, BAT Korea’s factory workers have been offered more promotion opportunities, according to the firm. As a result, up to 67 percent of the factory managers are from the assembly lines. Also, 81 factory workers were given opportunities to work at BAT’s offices outside of Korea.

As a result, the company was able to achieve good quality, technological innovation and high productivity. These results led to the company being awarded the $30 million export tower prize from the Korea International Trade Association last year.

“We believe that the collaborative effort between the union and the company will enable BAT Korea to produce more of our products for export, while maintaining stable employment conditions and establishing more opportunities for investment,” said BAT Korea’s human resources executive director Kim Hae-in.

British American Tobacco Korea, founded in 1990, offers cigarette brands including Dunhill, KENT, Lucky Strike and Vogue. The company employs about 1,000 people and operates a manufacturing facility in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)