Unionized workers of Standard Chartered First Bank Korea (SC First) launched a one-day general strike Monday in protest against management’s move to introduce a performance-based pay system.
The labor union of the Korean unit of London-based Standard Chartered said about 2,700 members from branches nationwide gathered at a resort in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, in opposition to the management’s push to overhaul the current seniority-based pay system. The bank has around 3,300 union members.
“We are on strike to keep our employment stability,” said Bae Kwang-jin, chief spokesman of the labor union.
“We are open to dialogue but we are considering a full-fledged strike if the talks fail,” Bae added.
In response, management said that it has made a counterproposal, which is highlighted by the phased introduction of a performance-based salary format and a greater choice of early retirement.
“Our priority is to make sure that our customers are not inconvenienced in the process,” a bank spokesperson said. “It is not an act of suppressing labor but one aimed at ensuring cooperation between the two parties. The fact that the union is taking it with a skewered view is disappointing.”
SC First is the first lender in Korea to push for introducing a performance-based pay system, arguing that it will help provide better services to customers by sparking competition in the fast-changing environment in the local banking sector.
SC First criticized the unionists, claiming they just want to keep their high salary. “An average male employee of SC First gets paid 80 million won per year,” said a spokeswoman of the lender.
The bank said it deployed non-unionists and available staff members in bank branches in a bid to make business operations as smooth as possible.
Standard Chartered acquired Korea First Bank for 3.4 trillion won ($3.1 billion) in April 2005 and renamed it SC First in September of the same year, the largest-ever takeover by the British banking giant.