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A Wide gap between Labor and Management Shown Regarding Ratification of ILO Agreement
Employers Claiming the Council Sides with Labor
A Wide gap between Labor and Management Shown Regarding Ratification of ILO Agreement
  • By Michael Herh
  • March 19, 2019, 10:58
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Park Soo-keun (center), chairman of the Labor-Management Relation Improvement Committee under the Economic, Social and Labor Council, urges the labor and management to reach a social consensus by the end of March in the committee office in Saemunan-ro, Seoul on March 18.
Park Soo-keun (center), chairman of the Labor-Management Relation Improvement Committee under the Economic, Social and Labor Council, urges the labor and management to reach a social consensus by the end of March in the committee office in Saemunan-ro, Seoul on March 18.

Korean employers are protesting against the Economic, Social and Labor Council for social dialogues, saying that the council is discussing the ratification of the ILO Basic Agreement in favor of the labor.

The Korea Employers Federation (KEF) became furious as members of the Labor-Management Relation Improvement Committee under the Economic, Social and Labor Council said on March 18, “"If a labor-management agreement is not reached within March, we will pass the matter to the National Assembly.”

The KEF put out an official statement on behalf of Korean business owners. In the statement, the KEF strongly condemned the Labor-Management Relation Improvement Committee, saying, “The committee did not act objectively and neutrally between the labor and management.”

"Given the fact that there was a wide gap between the labor and management in relation to the ratification of the ILO's key agreement, the Labor-Management Relation Improvement Committee adopted a system where the first step is to submit the labor world’s complaints, the second step is to submit employers’ and the third step is to discuss complaints from both sides altogether,” the KEF added. “During the second step, the committee should have intensively discussed employers’ complaints but brought up the labor world’s complaints, too, failing to properly review the opinions of business owners.”

“In addition, the Labor-Management Relation Improvement Committee is having some trouble. For example, one of two members of the committee recommended by employers has been expressing his will to quit the committee as a draft of their opinions about demands from business owners was leaked to the outside,” the KEF continued. “If the Labor-Management Relation Improvement Committee wraps up the discussion in this situation, the committee will not be able to draw any consensus, and finish its activities on labor-management relations at the level of announcing progress and issues between the labor and management.”

In fact, in reference to the ratification of the ILO agreement, the labor world has demanded an improvement in the bargaining window unification system, the promotion of industry-by-industry bargaining, the expansion of the objects and purposes of collective bargaining and strikes and an improvement in civil liability and criminal penalties pertaining to labor union activities and strikes and an improvement in systems for essential public projects and tasks that have to be constantly maintained. On the other hand, the management world has wanted the prohibition of workplace occupation, the extension of validity periods of collective bargaining agreements, the recognition of substitute workers during strikes, the abolition of unfair labor practices and the clarification of a voting procedure on going on a strike. But neither side is showing any sign of meeting halfway.

"The issue of ILO agreement ratification is a national agenda for the expansion of basic labor rights required by the National Assembly," said a KEF official. “Basically, we have to approach this matter cautiously and diversely as the discussion is an opportunity to lay the foundation for both the labor and management growing together while shoring up national competitiveness by turning the confrontational and combative labor-management relationship which has been lasting for more than 30 years into a cooperative and compromising one.”

“However, the Labor-Management Relation Improvement Committee is bent on producing tangible results only by the opening of an ILO general assembly meeting in June as the EU is putting pressure on the Korean government, citing the proposition that Korea and the EU have to make efforts for the ratification of the ILO basic agreement in the Korea-EU FTA,” the KEF official added.