A look at corporations and unions’ CSR activities in South Korea demonstrates the problems inherent in CSR. These include absolving the government of its responsibility for protecting social rights, legitimizing corporations’ PR strategies and promoting a cooperative form of unionism that cannot truly build workers’ power with respect to capital. All of these problems are clearly visible in the FKTU’s activities with the UN Global Compact Korea Network and in both the FKTU and KCTU’s inclusion of CSR clauses in collective bargaining agreements.
While the boundary is not always clear, a distinction should be drawn between CSR activities that legitimate the idea that corporations can be ‘socially responsible’ and those that use CSR discourse and mechanism to pressure companies and exposure the fallacy of the façade they put up through CSR. In the case of Samsung and other multinationals limited use of CSR in the second sense may be helpful in fostering support for workers’ struggles, especially in the face of ardent no union policies.