En su reporte mensual de noticias (en inglés) puede leerse la opinión de la Korean Fair Trade Commission, según la cual es ilegal el acuerdo tomado por los miembros de una asociación de estaciones de servicio en el que se decide no atender todos los domingos.
Agreement to Close Gas Stations on Every Other Sunday Ruled as Illegal
The Korea Oil Station Association (KOSA) filed an application for a Business Review to find out whether its decision to close member gas stations on every other Sunday and the act of encouraging its members to comply and requesting a relevant government agency to issue administrative guidance are in violation of the competition law. The KFTC made a judgment that to uniformly close gas stations based on a resolution of an enterprisers organization or an agreement among competitors is to unreasonably restrict business activities and, thus, violates the Korean competition law, Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act.
However, the KFTC added that it is not a violation of competition law for individual gas stations to voluntarily close on every two Sunday, and that if the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) compels gas stations to close on weekends based on the Energy Use Rationalization Act, citing a possible energy crisis, that would be a legal act and not be governed by the competition law.
The KFTC said that to set the same operating hours through a resolution of an enterprisers organization or an agreement among competing businesses infringes on the right of each business to determine its operating hours and closing days and undermines competition by restricting business hours in the market. Therefore, it constitutes an improper concerted act (an act restricting transaction of goods) under Article 19(1) of the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act (MRFTA). To encourage participation of members and request administrative guidance is, in effect, a compulsory means and cannot be seen as a voluntary action, the KFTC said. That is an act unreasonably restricting business activities of member companies, falling under Article 26(1) of the MRFTA.
KOSA said it wants to introduce the biweekly closing in order to improve working environment and reduce the burden of labor shortage. The KFTC, however, expressed its position that the introduction should be determined by individual operators and such goals cannot be a justifiable reason for the improper concerted act.
In response to KOSA’s argument that the measure is part of its efforts to cooperate in MOCIE’s energy conservation policies, the KFTC said energy conservation cannot be a justifiable reason for the concerted act and that measures should be taken based on relevant laws such as the Energy Use Rationalization Act, if necessary, to overcome energy crisis. KOSA has pursued to introduce the biweekly closing since 2002 when oil price hike did not start yet, regardless of the government’s energy policies.