South Korean internet services provider Kakao confirmed Thursday its employees have created an in-house labor union that aims to challenge the company’s current wage system.
Kakao marked the fourth information technology company in Korea to see an organization to represent workers’ rights, following Naver, Nexon and Smilegate. Prior to the launch, the union was affiliated with the Korean Chemistry & Textile Federation of Unions.
“We respect the launch of the labor union and their activities, and we will pursue a conversation and an amicable arrangement with the union for the sake of a better work environment,” Kakao said in a release Thursday.
Dubbed “Krew Union” after a term to refer to the Kakao employees, the in-house group seeks to urge the company to abolish its “blanket wage system.”
The blanket wage system is unique in Korea and refers to a wage calculation method under which a worker is paid a fixed sum of money regardless of how many extra hours an employee works. The system has come under criticism in labor circles for not properly compensating for overtime work.
Naver, Korea’s largest web portal operator, took down the wage system in July, three months after its employees created an in-house trade union in April for the first time in Korea’s IT industry.
The goal of Kakao’s union is to “repeal the blanket wage system and adopt a fair employee evaluation system,” Seo Seung-uk, the union leader, was quoted as saying in an interview with local newspaper the Hankyoreh.
Founded in 2014 via a merger with Daum, Kakao has operated services that range from its original text messenger to a web portal, a mobile payment and taxi-hailing service.
By Son Ji-hyoung