The labor union of Galderma Korea, the local offshoot of a skin healthcare company affiliated with Nestle, said the company was deliberately sabotaging activities of unionized employees by secretly running a background check on them.
According to the Korea Democratic Pharmaceutical Union’s Galderma Korea branch, the management investigated into the labor union head’ history of student movements and personal relationships in the past after the union was formed in March.
“After the formation of the labor union in March, an executive at the company contacted the labor union head’s younger alumnus to ask what kind of person he was, whether he participated in student movements and whether he had a girlfriend in college,” a member of the union at Galderma Korea said. “He also told female workers ‘not to hang out with bad senior male workers,’ as if the union was a bizarre group. This was to obstruct our activities.”
The executive admitted doing so, according to the labor union.
Workers at Galderma Korea formed the labor union in March to resolve the shortage of employees caused by the early retirement program after new CEO took office. They had several labor-management meetings, but the labor union said the company was unfaithful to implement the agreement. In July, the union filed a complaint against the management with the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
Although employees called for improving working conditions, the management did not accept their request but focused only on keeping the labor union from growing.
“After the complaint, we are holding management-labor council meetings. But the company has not changed its stance on our demands for improvements. It has not made any effort to narrow the gap in our opinions,” a member of the labor union said. “The management called the labor union’s operative teams ‘bad senior male workers’ and tried to block new workers from joining the union.”
Among 79 executives and employees at Galderma Korea, 45 are unionized workers.
Fear is spreading among Galderma Korea employees that Nestle’s sale of Galderma could accelerate the restructuring of Galderma Korea. Last year, Nestle carried out a massive restructuring at Galderma Korea after it decided to sell Galderma.
Galderma Korea CEO Rene Wipperich, who was appointed by the headquarters in August, conducted early retirement program (ERP) twice immediately after the inauguration. During the process, he forced several senior employees to leave the company, the trade union claimed. As Nestle is speeding up the Galderma sale, there is no guarantee that restructuring will not occur again, it said.
“What employees want from the company is to guarantee their employment and talk with the labor union before they pick the list for ERP so that workers who don’t want to retire through ERP do not get picked suddenly,” the labor union member said.
In response, Galderma Korea said that the company has never said anything that prevents employees, including new workers, from joining the union.
“In no case shall we obtain or use the personal information of employees without justifiable reasons," the company went on. “Galderma Korea respects employees' right to join the labor union.”