S. Korean unionists to press cement firm

The Asahi Shimbun, 21 June 2002

In a rare move, South Korean trade unionists will be on hand to help their Japanese counterparts turn up the heat on Taiheiyo Cement Corp. when it holds its annual shareholder meeting on June 27 in Tokyo, sources said.

Representatives of the 2,300-strong Korean Construction Transportation Workers’ Union (KCWU), which has a stake in Taiheiyo Cement, will attend the meeting with peers from the 5,600-member Rentai Union (Japan Construction and Transportation Workers’ Solidarity Union), which also owns shares in the company.

The trade unionists plan to use the occasion to question Taiheiyo’s management principles and labor policies.

The 2-year-old KCWU is concerned about the impact of the restructuring that Taiheiyo Cement has been pursuing at Ssangyong Cement Industrial Co. since becoming the leading shareholder in South Korea’s top cement maker.

It is highly unusual for non-Japanese unions that hold shares in Japanese firms to attend shareholder meetings, even though many companies like Taiheiyo have operations abroad.

With the assistance of Rentai, KCWU purchased Taiheiyo shares to give it voting rights at shareholder meetings.

Rentai, whose membership is drawn largely from small to midsize cement and concrete makers, bought 27,000 Taiheiyo shares four years ago to press the concerns of workers at Taiheiyo affiliates and subcontractors when the parent firm holds its annual shareholder meeting.

Rentai’s vice secretary, Takeshi Koyano, says it is important for trade unions in different countries to unite at a time when the flow of corporate capital knows few national boundaries.