“Chemicals leaked…” The union leader who was disciplined for evacuating the workers wins the appeal.

“Chemicals leaked…” The union leader who was disciplined for evacuating the workers wins the appeal.


A reversal and remand ruling was issued to the effect that the company’s disciplinary action against the union branch president who evacuated the workers from the workplace was unfair. The worker’s right to stop work was recognized.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Daejeon High Court, saying that there was an error in misunderstanding the legal principles in the original judgment, and the remand court also overturned the first and second trial rulings in favor of the company and ruled that the company lost.

On the 4th, the Daejeon High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff in the reversal and remand trial of the suit filed by Mr. Jo (50) against Company A, an automobile parts manufacturer located in Sejong City, where he worked, confirming the invalidity of his suspension.

The cassation and remand trial court said, “We confirm that the defendant’s suspension of the plaintiff on January 18, 2017 is invalid, and the defendant must pay the plaintiff 7.7 million won and delay damages for the same.”

On July 26, 2016, at approximately 8:00 and 9:30 a.m., an accident occurred in which thiobis, a chemical that generates hydrogen sulfide, leaked from a factory in the Bugang Industrial Complex.

The fire department at the scene broadcasted, ‘Evacuate within a 50m radius from the accident site.’ Villagers within a radius of 500m to 1km were also instructed by the village head to close their windows and refrain from going outside.

Company A’s workplace was located 200 meters away from the accident site. After hearing about the accident from another factory worker, Mr. Cho called the fire headquarters to assess the situation and ordered evacuation. As a result, a total of 28 union members stopped working and left the workplace.

Afterwards, Mr. Cho held a press conference on July 28 and claimed that the company had not taken appropriate measures to protect workers. The company suspended Mr. Cho for two months, saying he left the workplace without permission and spread false information with union members.

Mr. Cho filed a lawsuit against the company in March 2017, but the first and second trials said, “It is difficult to say that there was an imminent risk of an industrial accident occurring. The company sided, saying, “There is a reason for disciplinary action and the amount of disciplinary action is appropriate.”

However, the Supreme Court ruled that the original trial should be retried, saying, “The original judgment erred in misunderstanding the legal principles regarding the requirements for exercising the right to stop work and the criteria for determining the imminent risk of an industrial accident occurring.”

At the decision hearing held on the 14th of last month, the company claimed, “We issued an order to return to work not for all workers, but for Mr. Cho as an individual, for leaving the workplace without permission, and disciplined him for failing to comply with this order.” However, Mr. Cho said, “As the head of the union branch, we customarily set a time-off.” He refuted, “It is unusual for disciplinary action to be taken even though it was written and subsequently approved.”

Mr. Cho met with reporters after the judgment of the quashing and remand trial that day and said, “Actually, I knocked on the court’s door thinking that a very common sense conclusion would come out, but it took eight years to win the case.” He added, “With this ruling as an opportunity, workers in the field “I hope the right to actually stop work becomes a right that can be exercised universally,” he said with tears in his eyes.

The Korean Metal Workers’ Union of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions held a press conference in front of the Daejeon High Court last month and said, “It is common sense and natural for workers to protect themselves from danger,” and added, “In order to create a safe workplace from danger and protect the lives of workers, the right to stop work must be effective.” They called for expansion of the right to stop work.

Daejeon = Reporter Kang Eun-seon [email protected]

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