On Sept. 14, the agreement agreed upon during the previous day between labor, management, and the government was approved by a central executive committee meeting of the Federation of Korea Trade Unions (FKTU). Thirty out of the 48 members of the committee voted for the agreement. The agreement was passed thanks to FKTU Chairman Kim Dong-man successfully persuaded participating members. The agreement is now waiting for the final chapter, since it was passed in the central executive committee meeting.
Before approval, however, Kim Man-jae, the head of the metal workers’ labor union, set himself on fire, interrupting and suspending the proceedings. The FKTU was planning to report the details of the agreement among labor, management, and the government by holding the meeting in a room on the sixth floor of the FKTU Hall in Seoul’s Yeouido district at 2 p.m. However, Kim Man-jae rushed toward the platform and set himself ablaze about one hour after the start of the meeting. A senior member of the union was able to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher.
The metal, chemical, and public workers’ unions are taking strong issue with the agreement among labor, management, and the government. They even demanded that the leadership step down. But the meeting was resumed after few hours of recess, despite strong protests from assembled union members.
The meeting of the central executive committee is a decision-making organization with the participation of executives of the FKTU, the chairmen of industrial labor unions, and the heads of regional headquarters. When they pass the deal in a meeting of the central executive committee, the agreement is finally completed.
The metal workers’ union, among others, took the position against accepting the agreement which Kim Dong-man, chairman of the KFTU, agreed on yesterday. In particular, they are strongly opposed to the fact that Kim accepted the government’s plan to prepare guidelines about general dismissals and easing conditions for changing employment rules. General dismissals are to give pink slips to low-performing workers and workers with a bad work ethic. The Current Labor Standard Law does not contain this element. Easing conditions for changing employment rules is to ease a law that makes it compulsory for an employer to receive an agreement from employees when the employer makes his or her company rules disadvantageous to employees.
On Aug. 18, when the leadership of the FKTU tried to persuade its members to return to a meeting with management and the government, about 100 members of sectoral labor unions under the FKTU such as the metal, chemical and public workers’ labor unions occupied the meeting room, obstructing the leadership’s declaration of its return to the tripartite commission.