Homeplus-labor union

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- Workers at Homeplus Co., the South Korean unit of British retail giant Tesco PLC, have set up a trade union for the first time in 14 years at the second-largest local discount chain, the union leader said Wednesday.

"The 25-member union of Homeplus will encourage other employees to join the union in a bid to expand our organizational power," said Kang Gyu-hyuk, head of the Homeplus union.

Homeplus has been without a labor union since 1999 when it started operation as a unit of Samsung Group, which is known for banning labor unions at its subsidiaries.

Samsung withdrew from the retail sector in 2011 by selling Samsung C&T's stake in Homeplus.

However, the discount chain operator's unit Homeplus Tesco Co., formerly known as Homever, has been unionized even after Homeplus bought it from E-Land Group in May 2008.

Homeplus has 133 stores across South Korea, including 33 outlets of Homeplus Tesco. According to industry sources, Homeplus is mulling merging the unit to increase its sales volume.

The unionized workers at Homeplus will raise their voices against the company's "illegal acts," Kang said.

They plan to file a lawsuit with the Seoul Central District Court against the company's nonpayment of allowances for overtime and holiday work on Friday.

Homeplus' rivals E-Mart Co. and Lotte Mart Co. have already been unionized.

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