Supreme Court upholds decision in favor of Kia union’s claim in standard wage suit

SEOUL, The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of workers at Kia Motors Corp. that fixed bonuses should be counted as standard wages, closing a curtain on the almost decadelong legal battle.
The Supreme Court confirmed that the automaker should pay its workers back wages, based on a calculation that counts regular bonuses in “ordinary wages.”
Workers have been sensitive to the issue as ordinary wages are used as the standard for gauging overtime, severance and other allowances.
Some 27,000 workers filed the suit in October 2011, demanding the company recognize regular bonuses, meal allowances and daily expenses as part of the ordinary wages.
A local court ruled in favor of the workers in 2017, saying regular bonuses, meal allowances and daily expenses should be included in the scope of ordinary wages.
The Seoul High Court also sided with the unionists of the country’s No. 2 automaker two years later, but it slightly reduced the amount of back payments by excluding some meal and family allowances initially included in the lower court’s definition of the base payment. The court told the company to pay its workers 422.3 billion won (US$355 million) in unpaid wages and interest.
With the highest court’s ruling, the company should pay some 50 billion won to approximately 3,000 unionized workers in additional back pay. For the two previous lawsuits against the company, some 27,000 workers participated, but many dropped out after the 2017 decision.
As in the previous rulings, the top court rejected the claim by the carmaker that the unionized workers violated “the principle of good faith” by suing the company knowing that it would damage the company’s financial status.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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