By Kwon Mee-yoo
The labor union of the nation's broadcasting industry consisting of staffers, actors and singers reached an agreement with the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) on how to settle unpaid wages Wednesday, just minutes before the union was to hold a press conference to denounce management.
Kim Eung-suk, 43, leader of the union, said the broadcaster promised to guarantee an unpaid salary and establish a joint body to improve the outsourcing guidelines.
"As all the problems with KBS had been resolved before the press conference, dramas aired on KBS, including, 'Bread, Love and Dreams
', will not be affected by the strike", Kim said.
The union had claimed that there were overdue appearance fees and other unpaid wages totaling 4.4 billion won ($3.7 million) as of July.
As a result, the union decided to boycott filming outsourced dramas at all three major broadcasting companies last week. The union said though the subcontractors are the first responsible for the unpaid salaries, the broadcasting companies should also take some responsibility.
"The major broadcasters had abandoned their social and ethical duties. While we have accumulated unpaid bills, the executives and staff members of broadcasting firms received average annual salaries over 100 million won", Kim said. "We are not begging. We are asking for proper compensation for what we worked for".
He also claimed that a broadcaster threatened to exclude performers from dramas if they joined the union's strike. "We received reports from our actors and are considering filing complaints with the Ministry of Labor.
Ten soap operas will be affected by the union's boycott such as "Naughty Kiss
" and "Dong Yi
" of MBC and "Life is Beautiful"
of SBS from Thursday, since actors refused to work.
Even though "Life is Beautiful"
is produced by the same outsourcing production as "Bread, Dream and Love" and completed payment as of July, the union refused to continue with "Life is Beautiful"
as SBS did not accept the union's demands