Toll collectors win suit over permanent position.
The Supreme Court upheld lower courts' rulings, Thursday, that the state-run expressway operators should hire toll collectors directly to permanent positions rather than having contractors employ them.
The decision came six years after the lawsuit was filed in 2013, and 61 days after the fee collectors began to stage sit-in protests on top of a canopy at the Seoul Tollgate in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.
About 6,500 workers, who originally belonged to outsourced contracting companies of the Korea Expressway Corp. (KEC), filed the suit to demand the authority employ them directly, giving them permanent employment status.
A local court and a high court ruled in favor of the workers, recognizing them as de facto employees of the KEC.
However, while the final trial was ongoing, the corporation set up a subsidiary to employ the fee collectors.
About 5,000 among the 6,500 workers accepted the employment at the subsidiary, while the remaining 1,500 refused the offer and were dismissed as the contract between the KEC and the outsourced firms expired June 30.
Workers claimed the KEC wants to hire them indirectly so it can fire them anytime, once it finalizes the implementation of its smart-tolling system by 2020. Forty of them have been staging the sit-in protest since just before the contract expiration.
Both tollgate workers' unions at the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) welcomed the verdict.
"For 20 years, tollgate workers have been the victims of illegal hiring practices. They have finally been freed from this," a KCTU official said.
Although only about 400 workers took part in the lawsuit, the toll workers said the ruling must be applied to all 1,500 fired workers who refused to accept the KEC's offer of employment at its subsidiary, saying they will continue to fight until the KEC hires all of them directly.