Economic organizations such as the Korea Employers Federation raised an objection to the South Korean government’s proposed partial amendment to the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act related to the ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98. The proposed amendment covers laid-off and unemployed persons’ labor union membership, wage payment to full-time labor union officials, more lenient work hour exemption, etc.
“Unlike in Europe, where trade unions are classified by industry, unions are classified by company in South Korea and labor-management relations in the country have been characterized by conflict and confrontation for a long time,” the organizations said, adding, “If labor union membership is allowed to laid-off and unemployed persons under such circumstances, the power of labor unions will become even greater and the labor-management relations will become even more lopsided.”
When it comes to wage payment to full-time labor union officials, the organizations advocated the current prohibition of the payment, saying that the prohibition ensures autonomy, balance, equality and morality as essential elements for desirable labor-management relations and provides appropriate protection from mutual control and intervention with regard to ILO Convention 98.
“The ratification of the conventions is likely to give unions more rights to organize and, as such, employers have to be given more basic rights to defend production activities,” they continued to say, adding, “At the same time, labor regulations much more lenient to employees have to be improved as well.”