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The Korea Herald
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THE INVESTOR
May 19, 2024

Retail & Consumer

SPC chairman arrested over anti-labor allegations

  • PUBLISHED :April 05, 2024 - 17:02
  • UPDATED :April 05, 2024 - 17:02
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Hur Young-in, the chairman of South Korean bakery giant SPC Group (Yonhap)

Hur Young-in, the chairman of South Korean bakery giant SPC Group, was arrested on Friday for allegedly forcing workers to quit their labor union.

The Seoul Central District Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for the 74-year-old chairman on suspicion of violating the Trade Union Act, citing concerns that Hur may try to destroy evidence.

With the warrant, prosecutors will take the chairman into custody and investigate if Hur was involved in anti-labor practices for a maximum of 20 days.

Hur is accused of allegedly instructing the group's workforce training affiliate to put pressure on bakers at SPC bakery chain Paris Baguette to transition their union affiliation from the more assertive Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to the management-favorable Federation of Korean Trade Unions, between 2019 and 2022.

Prosecutors suspect the group started to make organizational efforts to reduce the KCTU’s union membership after unionized bakers held protests in 2021 near Hur's residence, demanding wage hikes and other welfare benefits.

Since then, there has been further labor strife, including over its response to the death of a worker at a bread factory affiliated with SPC in 2022.

In March, SPC CEO Hwang Jae-bok was arrested for alleged anti-labor practices. Prosecutors will investigate into whether Hur directly instructed Hwang to force the workers to change their union membership.

Meanwhile, prosecutors will probe whether the chairman was involved in a prosecution investigator's disclosure of internal investigation details, related to breach of trust allegations against Hur, purportedly in exchange for monetary incentives and other forms of bribes.

Hur denies the allegations.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
The Korea Herald

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