|Announcers of local broadcaster MBC hold a press conference in front of the Seoul Labor Office, Tuesday, claiming the company was violating the law against workplace bullying that took effect the same day. / Yonhap|
By Kang Seung-woo
Announcers of local broadcaster MBC submitted a complaint to the labor authorities against their company, Tuesday, claiming it was violating the law banning workplace bullying.
Their complaint marked the first filed regarding the law, which took effect the same day after a six-month grace period.
"On the occasion of the first day of the anti-bullying law taking effect, we are reporting MBC to the Seoul Labor Office to regain our clients' working rights," Ryu Ha-kyung of law firm Human which represents the announcers said in a press conference.
The announcers joined the company on a contract basis in 2016 and 2017 when the MBC union was in conflict with the management, eventually leading to a strike in September 2017. They worked instead of striking.
However, following the election of a new CEO in December that year and a management reshuffle, the announcers, hired under the previous management, were notified in April 2018 that they were being dismissed.
In March this year, they filed a suit to annul their dismissal and an injunction against the company's decision. A court approved the injunction in May saying they should be temporarily recognized as workers until a final court ruling.
Following the decision, the announcers returned to the firm May 27.
However, MBC has allegedly blocked them from doing related work, and keeping them separate from other announcers who participated in the strike. In addition, they claim they cannot access the company's intranet and the broadcaster will not assign them any duties until the final court ruling.
"We do not intend to ruin the company. We just want to our jobs back and to work," one announcer said during a press conference.
Another said, "With the anti-workplace bullying law going into effect, we decided to hold a press conference to inform the public about the company's unfair treatment."
According to the lawyer, MBC's treatment of the announcers violates the law that prevents employees from being treated unfairly in promotions, monetary reward and other compensation without clear reason; being assigned work that is not specified in the employment contract; being blocked from access to the company's intranet; and group bullying.
"We have decided to ask the labor office to investigate the case," the lawyer said.
If retaliatory or discriminatory measures are taken against employees, an accused employer could face up to three years in prison or a 30 million won ($25,500) fine.
The law defines workplace bullying as an act by an employer or an employee inflicting physical or mental suffering on other employees beyond the appropriate scope of work, or damaging the work environment by taking advantage of their position or relationship.