Samsung has been making headlines with its troublesome Galaxy Note7 phone, which features a battery prone to exploding. Now, leaked company documents reveal the company’s working culture could be just as destructive as its latest smartphone.
The document in question is an internal presentation to Samsung executives dated January 2012. It was made public by the International Trade Union Confederation. The PowerPoint presentation aims to educate executives on strategies to prevent the creation of labour unions at the company as well as how to deal with them if they do exist.
The language used in the presentation does not inspire a lot of trust in Samsung’s proper treatment of its staff, who seem to be thought of as the enemy. The document suggests “countermeasures” to be used to “dominate employees”. It considers the case of “troublesome employees” who established a labour union, but were quickly prevented from having any real power as Samsung “rapidly took a pre-emptive reaction” in the form of establishing a pro-company union.
Where many modern companies will proudly announce their people are their prime asset, Samsung seems to be at war with theirs. According to the document, there is a need for “emergency situation rooms for rapid and effective response”, “exhaustive preparation and training”, and the “concentration of all our power for early solutions in case of union establishment”.
Plenty more questionable language can be found in the 115-page presentation, but Samsung’s overall sentiment toward employees and their wish to establish labour unions can be summarised by the following statement on page 42: “Because trouble-makers have a high possibility of establishing a labour union associated with external forces, we should radically block any possibility of making trouble by the continuous reduction of those manpower.”
Although mostly worrisome from an ethical standpoint so far, the document continues to suggest practices that venture into the realm of the illegal. It points out that “[i]n the case of facing a lawsuit on unfair labour practices, the existence of evidence is the crux of the matter”, suggesting that breaking the law isn’t a problem as long as you get away with it.
In response to the content of the presentation, the International Trade Union Confederation has started a petition calling for Samsung to end worker abuse as well as its apparent “no-union” policy immediately.
So far, Samsung has not commented on the legitimacy of the leaked document or its contents.
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