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Prospects on Korean Labour Rights from 2005 and the Role of ILO


   

  • Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
  • 2nd Fl. Daeyoung Bld., 139 Youngdeungpo-2-ga, Youngdeungpo-ku, Seoul 150-032 Korea

  • Tel.: +82-2-2670-9234 Fax: +82-2-2635-1134 E-mail: inter@kctu.org http://kctu.org
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  • KCTU Counter-Report on the South Korean Government’s Report to the UN Human Rights Committee
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    For the UN Human Rights Committee 
     
     
     

    10th October, 2006 

     

  • Korean Confederation of Trade Unions(KCTU)
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    Contents 

    1. General Information on Basic Labour Rights Situation ------------ 3

    2. Problems with the “Grand Tripartite Agreement” for the Advancement of Industrial Relations -------------------------------------- 6

    3. ICFTU/TUAC/GUFs Joint Mission to Korea ------------------------ 13

    4. List of Trade Unionists Imprisoned ------------------------------------ 20

    5. UNION MEMBER DIES DUE TO SEVERE BEATING BY RIOT POLICE -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 25

    6. Government Employees’ Basic Labour Rights In Korea ----------- 29

    7. National Human Rrights Commission of Korea(NHRCK) Recommends Improvements to Gender-Discriminative Hiring of Female KTX Attendants ----------------------------------------------------- 41

    8. Disguised Self-employed Workers in Korea and Violation of Their Right to Work ------------------------------------------------------------------ 42  
    General Information on Basic Labour Rights Situation 

    When South Korea joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1996, there was much hoopla and expectations. To the international community it appeared that South Korea was on the brink of shedding is shameful image of dictatorship that undermined democracy and fundamental trade union rights. At the time, South Korean government committed to “reform existing laws on industrial relations in line with internationally accepted standards, including those concerning basic rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining.” However, ten years later, South Korea has not even come close. The recent repressive actions of the South Korean government under the Roh Moon Hyun administration clearly shows that South Korea has failed as an economically developed democratic country in ensuring fundamental trade union rights according to international labor standards.   

    In March of this year, the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) of the ILO announced its recommendations in association to trade union rights violations in South Korea. The recommendations raised serious concerns on the government’s repression against trade unions, specifically the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) and the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU). However, the government not only has refused to implement these recommendations but more importantly it has chosen to intensify its attacks on the KGEU and the KFCITU, thus, snubbing its “nose” to international labor standards. In addition, the government has failed to ensure the fundamental basic rights of irregular (subcontract, part-time, dispatched, “self-employed”, etc.) workers, which makes up the majority of the work force in South Korea. 

    Since 2002, the ILO has called on the South Korean government to recognize the KGEU but the government steadfastly refuses to do so, stating that the KGEU is an illegal organization under the existing labor laws. For a number of years, the international community has called on the South Korean government to change these laws as it violates the core ILO conventions. In a flagrant disregard to these international demands, the South Korean government has once again launched a full fledged attack against the KGEU through a serious of actions, the most blatant being the coordinated forced closure of all local KGEU union offices. 

    On Friday, September 22, the government sent in thousands of riot police across the country to use “any means necessary” to shut down the KGEU union offices. The police identified “any means necessary” as using fire extinguishers, fire-fighting dust, hammers, claw hammers, hammer drills, and power saws. Armed with these weapons, riot police and hired thugs forced inside local union offices, dragging KGEU members and their supporters outside the office, and then finally shutting and sealing the offices like coffins. In the words of a KEGU leader, “more than 100 municipalities nation wide turned into battle fields.” By the end of the day out of a total 251 local union offices, 81 were completely shut down. Many members were injured and as a result some were hospitalised. Some KGEU members and their supporters were arrested and detained. It is quite clear that the government is determined to do everything in its power to systematically destroy the KGEU.

    Across the country over 100 trade unionists have been imprisoned just for exercising their three basic fundamental trade union rights---right to organize, the right to strike, and the right to bargain. The KFCITU members comprise the majority of those in jail due to a series of strikes conducted by KFCITU affiliates, specifically the Daegu, Ulsan, and Pohang local unions. Stating that KFCITU members incited violence, caused disturbance of the peace, and coordinated or participated in violent, illegal industrial actions, 49 KFCITU members are still imprisoned. Much more alarming is the fact the government habitually mobilizes thousands of riot police across the country to forcibly break KFCITU actions and strikes. Despite the fact that the union had legal permits that give them the right to conduct demonstration and marches, the police will often bar them going forward or attempt to shut down the actions. At times, the police violence is so extreme that it results in numerous injuries and in the case of Ha Joong Keun, a tragic death. Brother Ha died from injuries he suffered after several riot police repeatedly beat him on the head with their metal shields. To date, government has refused to accept full responsibility for Ha’s death and call for an end to police violence. Instead, the government has alluded that the violent actions of the KFCITU is the reason behind the arrests, injuries, and even death of Ha Joong Keun. 

    Even though the CFA raised serious concerns about the South Korean government using criminal law to arrest and imprison trade unionists, throughout this summer, the prosecution once again charged KFCITU organizers for using force, bribery, and extortion to sign collective bargaining agreements with construction companies. The union’s only “crime” has been to organize construction site workers, who are one of the most marginalized sectors of South Korean society.   

    From the recent harsh sentencing---imprisonment from two to three years---against the key leaders of the Pohang local union, it is evident that the South Korean government is using the KFCITU as an example to deter construction workers from joining unions. More importantly, many in the labor movement believe the government’s actions is an attempt to stop irregular workers from organizing, as at least 80% of the work force in the construction industry are irregular workers.  

    Indeed, in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, rapid casualization ensued and irregular workers (contract, dispatch, “specially-employed” [self-employed], and part-time workers) have become the majority of the Korean workforce.  Yet in such cases where the employment relationship is disguised, the State has failed to uphold existing labor laws, resulting in the preclusion of this whole class of workers from exercising trade union rights fundamental to all workers (freedom to form a trade union, collective bargaining and collective action).  In the metal sector, the Labor Ministry itself has ruled that many of the workers victimized by en masse retaliatory dismissals for organizing a union were victimized by employers using the illegal practice of hiring them as dispatch labor disguised as subcontracting, and that the workers should be regularized; yet, at the time of the ICFTU mission, some 700 irregular workers in the metal sector were still struggling for reinstatement after dismissal for having organized a union. For example, the Labor Ministry found that Kiryung Electronics illegally used labor dispatch, but the irregular women workers of Kiryung Electronics are the ones subject to all kinds of physical assault —by thugs privately employed by the employer as well as police violence—fear, imprisonment and intimidation because of their union activities.  Further, the president of the union local recently collapsed in the course of a hunger strike during a protest visit to the Labor Ministry; yet, the state intervention in this case has been to imprison the union president, push situations to clashes by mobilizing large forces of riot police and generally shield the employer from obligation to resolve outstanding issues with the union in bargaining.  The women workers of the KTX, the high-speed bullet train, have also been subject to such repression of their freedom to organize a union, and here again, we saw state intervention to quickly close in on exercise of fundamental trade union rights.  

    “September 11 Deal”---Legislative Measures to Undermine Labor Rights

    On September 11, the South Korean government announced the “Grand Tripartite Agreement” on the Roadmap for Industrial Relations Reforms. The agreement was concluded in an “Emergency Session” of the tripartite representatives meeting, attended by the Ministry of Labor, the Korean Employer’s Federation, the Korean chamber of Commerce, the Korean Tripartite Commission and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU). However, one of the tripartite members, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) representing 800,000 members was deliberately excluded from this meeting. It was not even notified about the meeting even though they had been participating in previous meetings. 

    This bill, referred to as the “9-11 Deal”, falls far short of the original legislative objective of reforming industrial relations and systems in South Korea. The government had publicly stated that the main principles behind their proposal were to “build industrial relations that conform to international standards.” However, the “9-11 Deal is completely contrary to that goal. The main reason being that once again the government has deferred the existence of multiple unions at the enterprise level for another three years. In doing this, the government has in the words of the ICTFU/TUAC/GUFs mission taken a “disturbing step backwards.”(Please see the attached  related-report) 

    In addition, the South Korean government has stated that the new agreement is in line with international standards since it has repealed provisions mandating compulsory arbitration but in reality the government has done the exact opposite, for they have expanded the scope of “essential” public services to include air transport, blood supply, water purification, and steam and hot water supply. Thus, even though compulsory arbitration is repealed, it exists only on paper, as workers in the “essential” public services such as transportation and public health, will be subject to imposition of Emergency Mediation, which includes compulsory arbitration with additional obligations to maintain minimum services as well as the imposition of a replacement workforce. In a nutshell, these workers will be subject to a 3-fold regulation that would effectively cut back on their right to exercise the right to collective actions. 
     

     

    Problems with the “Grand Tripartite Agreement” for the Advancement of Industrial Relations

    1. Introduction 

    On September 11, the South Korean government announced the “Grand Tripartite Agreement” on the Roadmap for Industrial Relations Reforms. The proposed agreement was negotiated and agreed by the members of the tripartite committee---the Ministry of Labor, the Korean Employer’s Federation, the Korean chamber of Commerce, and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU). However, one of the tripartite members, the Koran Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) representing 800,000 members was deliberately excluded from this meeting. The KCTU was not even notified about the meeting itself even though they had been participating in previous meetings.    

    The unjust and undemocratic “9-11 deal” falls far short of the legislative intention of the original plan to reform industrial relations laws and systems, much less some kind of actual “advancement” in industrial relations. The South Korean government had publicly declared that the main principles behind the original policy to revamp industrial relations were to “build industrial relations that conform to international standards, form multiple-level social partnership and to establish voluntary industrial relations grounded in both autonomy and responsibility.”   

    Since the unjust and undemocratic “9-11 deal” once again defer enterprise-level union pluralism in exchange for postponing prohibition on wage payment to full-time union officers (who have 100% time-off for union activities) and excludes legislative ground to allow institutionalization of industrial-level collective bargaining, it not only fails miserably at constructing a multiple structure for industrial relations but rather consolidates enterprise-level unionism. Furthermore, the “9-11 deal” seriously contravenes the principle of “autonomy with responsibility” in that it introduces excessive legislative intervention regarding the right to strike for workers in the public sector.   

    The South Korean government has been most responsible for bringing about these outcomes. In 2003, after the government announced its hastily-constructed “Roadmap of the Advancement of Industrial Relations Laws and Systems,” it made no effort whatsoever in making the legislation concrete or specific in light of the realities facing South Korean workers. Instead, the laws simply focused on building the government’s agenda without full consultation and bona fide negotiations with the concerned parties. In light of the government’s manipulation of the situation, critical challenges for decisively reshaping the very future of the South Korean industrial relations shrank from discussions to a mere object of barter.  

    2. Major Contents of the “9-11 Deal” 

    The following is a summary of the most harmful provisions included in the “9-11 Deal”.  

    • Enterprise-level Union Pluralism: extending the prohibition (it was originally to be lifted in 2006) on enterprise-level union pluralism for an additional three years.
    • Ban on wage payments to full-time union officers: the current law prohibits wage payment of full-time union officers. The amendment would postpone the implementation for an additional three years.   
    • Replacement workers at essential public services and compulsory arbitration: In exchange for abolishing compulsory arbitration, the scope of “essential” public services will be broadly expanded, and the replacement workers will be implemented at a full scare. Furthermore, “essential” public services will be now subjected to maintenance of minimum services obligation. Yet because the “emergency mediation” clause, which contains compulsory arbitration, was not repealed, workers in the essential public services shall be subject to a three-fold regulation (replacement work, obligation to maintain “minimum” services, compulsory arbitration under emergency mediation).   
    • Unfair dismissal: introduction of a monetary compensation system so when workers are unfairly dismissed, instead of the employer reinstating the worker to her/his original position after it has been proven to be an unfair dismal, the employer now only have to pay compensation to the worker. In addition the penal punishment imposed on employers who unfairly dismiss workers has been abolished so now there are no longer any sanctions against employers for unfair dismissals.  
    • Dismissal for managerial reasons (redundancy dismissal): When employers choose to conduct mass layoffs for managerial reasons, the “prior notice period” has been vastly reduced from 60 days to days due to “labor market flexibility.” Because of this, over 90% of the work places are likely to give a notification of 30 days prior to mass dismissal instead of the current 60-days prior notice.  
    • While these problematic provisions were included, the following items submitted by the KCTU to advance industrial relations were not---institutionalization of industrial-level collective bargaining, ensuring fundamental trade union rights for disguised self-employed worker, government employees, professors, and teachers, and reforming the abuse of damages claims and provisional seizure of assets [punishing strike action] system. 
     

    3. Detailed Comparisons  

    1) Enterprise-level Union Pluralism and Ban on Wage Payment to Full-time Union Officers 

    The South Korean government has already postponed the implementation of enterprise-level union pluralism for the last 10 years under the excuse of the prevention of social unrests and the need of preparation period.  

    On September 11, the government once again postponed the legislation of union pluralism at the enterprise level for a further three years under the same reasons of preventing social unrest, in exchange for the postponement of ban on wage payment to full-time union officers for the same period. However, the legalization of enterprise-level union pluralism is the very heart of internationally-recognised fundamental trade union rights, which should be implemented immediately. The South Korean tripartite members have been given a long ten years of preparation for this to be a reality.    

    It should be noted that there are hardly any other major country in the world that has continuously prohibited union pluralism at the enterprise level through a legislative fiat. Clearly, such prohibitions violate international standards relating to freedom of association specifically as outlines by the ILO conventions.  

    Not only does deferment of enterprise-level union pluralism seriously restrict the autonomous right to form unions, but it will also have a pronounced effect in blocking fundamental trade union rights for irregular workers and workers at small and medium-sized enterprises. These consequences will undoubtedly stymie efforts to increase the overall union density in South Korea.  

    In case of the question of wage payments by employers to fulltime union officers, it is a separate issue thus it should not be connected to union pluralism at the enterprise-level. The ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) have has repeatedly recommended the government to allow workers and employers to conduct free and voluntary negotiations in respect of this matter, rather than to legislate on this issue. 

    So the ban on wage payment to union officers by the legislation also falls far short of international standards, and the South Korean government should repeal the related articles, section 24(2) of the TULRAA. However, the South Korean government and the participating concerned parties of the “9-11 Deal” has not challenged this principle but merely postponed it at the sacrifice of fundamental trade union rights including the legalization of union pluralism at the enterprise level.  

    The KCTU urges the South Korean government and concerned parties that the question of enterprise-level union pluralism should not be an object of barter for a deal of anything.  


     
    <Related ILO Committee on Freedom Association Recommendations and Principles> 

    1. 340th Report of the Committee on Freedom of Association (March, 2006) 

    (i) to take rapid steps for the legalization of trade union pluralism at the enterprise level, in full consultation with all social partners concerned, so as to guarantee at all levels the right of workers to establish and join the organization of their own choosing; 

    (ii) to enable workers and employers to conduct free and voluntary negotiations in respect of the question of payment of wages by employers to full-time union officials; 

    2. 309th Report of the Committee on Freedom of Association (March, 1998) 

    The Committee considers that the prohibition of the payment of full-time union officials by employers is a matter which should not be subject to legislative interference. It therefore calls upon the Government to repeal section 24(2) of the TULRAA. 

    3. ILO Committee on the Freedom of Association  

    Even though it may well be in the workers’ interest to have one sole union, compelling union monism by law contravenes article 2 of convention 87. There is a fundamental difference between a situation in which the law enforces union monism and a situation in which workers have composed a single union of their own accord. Direct and indirect intervention by the State--in particular, intervention by the State through the law--cannot be justified by saying that avoidance of contention among multiple unions is advantageous to the realization of workers’ rights and interests.

     

    2) Essential Public Services and Compulsory Arbitration 

    The South Korean government has been publicizing itself as having approached international labor standards by repealing provisions mandating compulsory arbitration for essential public services. However, a close look at the specific wording reveals that while the ILO recommended reducing the scope of “essential” public services, the South Korean government has done the reverse and in fact expanded the scope.   

    Without reasonable grounding, the “9-11deal” adds the following to the “essential” public services: air transport, blood supply, treatment of waste water and sewage and steam and hot water supply. In addition, the railroad services, the subway and the petroleum sector still remain on the list of “essential” public services, even though the CFA of the ILO, “considers those sectors do not constitute the essential services in the strict sense of the term whose interruption would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population.”  

    Consequently, even though compulsory arbitration is repealed on paper, workers in the “essential” public services will be subject to imposition of Emergency Mediation, which includes compulsory arbitration with additional obligations to maintain minimum services as well as the imposition of a replacement workforce.  In a nutshell, these workers will be subject to a 3-fold regulation that would effectively cut back on their right to exercise the right to collective actions.   


     
    <Related ILO Committee of Freedom Association Recommendations and Principles> 

    1. 327th Report of the Committee on Freedom of Association (March, 2002) 

    488. Regarding the scope of essential public services, currently listed in section 71(2) of the TULRAA, where the right to strike could be prohibited, the Committee notes with interest that inner-city bus services and banking services were removed from this list as of 1 January 2001. Consequently, the remaining public services where the right to strike could be prohibited include railroad services (including intercity rail), water, electricity, gas supply, oil refinery and supply services, hospital services and telecommunications services. The Committee considers that railroad services, the subway and the petroleum sector which remain on this list do not constitute essential services in the strict sense of the term whose interruption would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population. They constitute, however, in the circumstances of this case, public services where a minimum service which is negotiated between the trade unions, the employers and the public authorities could be maintained in the event of a strike so as to ensure that the basic needs of the users of these services are satisfied. Noting the Government’s statement that discussions will continue in the Tripartite Commission on further modifying the scope of essential public services in line with ILO principles on freedom of association, the Committee would request the Government to further amend the list of essential public services contained in section 71 of the TULRAA so that the right to strike may be prohibited only in essential services in the strict sense of the term. 

    2. 340th Report of the Committee on Freedom of Association (March, 2006) 

    781.-(b) As regards the other legislative aspects of this case, the Committee urges the Government:

    (iii) to amend the list of essential public services in section 71(2) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Amendment Act (TULRAA) so that the right to strike may be restricted only in essential services in the strict sense of the term;

     

    3) Replacement Workforce

     

    The 9-11 unjust and undemocratic deal takes the position of allowing replacement workforce through new hiring whereas ILO standards protect workers’ right to strike without having to give up their jobs in exchange. Enabling new hiring during a strike makes it difficult for workers to return to their original jobs after a strike, and thus does not conform to international standards.   

    4) Industrial-level Collective Bargaining 

    The “9-11 deal” thoroughly excludes the KCTU proposal relating to institutionalization of industrial union bargaining relations. Transformation of enterprise-level unions to industrial unions has already reached 65.4% in the KCTU; yet, only a tiny number have concluded their collective bargaining agreements through actual industrial-level collective bargaining.   

    This forms a striking contrast to the major nations of the West, where there are institutional mechanisms for stable industrial bargaining. Not only does the South Korean labor laws lack legal mechanisms to rein-in employers who evade bargaining responsibilities, but the labor law also defines lawful industrial action so narrowly that industrial actions taken by industrial unions are unprotected.  

    Furthermore, South Korea is among the worst in collective bargaining agreement coverage among OECD nations; as the scope of coverage stalls at about 10%, which is even lower than the union density of 11%.  This is due to the requirements for extending application of industrial agreements to a region are excessively demanding (requiring 2/3 of the workers in that region), extending protections (beyond the enterprise level) is impracticable and there exists no system comparable to internationally recognized ones that extend the efficacy of industrial collective agreements to the industrial level.   

    5) Government Employees 

    The issue of fundamental trade union rights for government employees was likewise completely excluded.  The “Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials’ Trade Unions” came into effect on January 28, 2006.  The act, which was supposed to guarantee the trade union rights of government employees, instead severely limits their trade union rights and union activities.  Indeed the act was unilaterally legislated by the government without any consultations with government employees unions concerned.     

    The KCTU and the KGEU raised the issue on government employees’ trade union rights in the tripartite representatives meetings, and an agreement was made in July between the government and the unions to table the agenda on government employees’ union rights during forthcoming negotiations.  Since then, however, no meetings on the issue were held.  The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) had refused to participate in the negotiating table and furthermore, claimed that the tripartite representatives meeting should not even deal with the issue, contradicting the agreement made in July. 

    Instead, the government squeezed up the repressive waves against the KGEU, the largest trade union in civil service representing around 140,000 government employees. 

    Despite the fact that the ILO adopted recommendations on government employees’ trade union rights in March, 2006, shortly after, the MOGAHA issued the “Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership)” - identifying the KGEU as an illegal organization on the basis that it hasn’t submitted notice of establishment pursuant to the new act.  The Ministry also indicated that “no dialogue and collective bargaining will be permitted for the KGEU, “an illegal organization” and instructed all government offices “to force transformation of KGEU locals into a “legal” trade union and to issue orders to “voluntarily” withdraw membership from the KGEU. The Ministry even instructed local governments to threaten the KGEU members that there will be disciplinary actions for failure to comply with the orders. In order to enforce this “transformation”, the directive proposed “individual contacts”, “home visits”, and “telephone calls” to “persuade” the KGEU members and their family members.  

    The repression went further. On August 3, 2006, the MOGAHA issued another directive that specifically requested that all government offices take firm actions against the KGEU in order to “take thorough countermeasures including forceful closing down of the illegal organizations’ offices nation wide. The Ministry asked “to exclude KGEU members from personnel committees, to actively encourage the KGEU members to withdraw memberships, to prohibit union dues check-off system and to block any financial supports like voluntary contribution or donation to the union.”  

    While the ILO Asia Regional Meeting was taking place in Busan, Korea, one of the KGEU local offices was forcefully closed down on August 30. Furthermore, from September 22 to 28, the KGEU local offices nation wide were attacked by riot police and the specially hired thugs to forcefully close the offices down. As of September 28, 2006, 119 KGEU offices have been shut down and in many cases the doors to the union offices were sealed off with iron plates or bars. The KGEU members inside the offices were violently pulled out. Dozens of KGEU members and solidarity organization members were arrested and some of them were seriously injured.

      

     

    ICFTU/TUAC/GUFs Joint Mission to Korea

    September, 2006 

    The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD accepted the invitation of our two Korean affiliates, FKTU and KCTU, to conduct a Fact Finding Mission prior to the 14th ILO Asian Regional Meeting to be held in Busan, Korea. Global Union Federations agreed to be part of the Mission, in close consultation with their respective Korean affiliates.  

    The Mission took place on 24-26th August 2006 (see programme and participants, appendix 1). Participants wish to thank FKTU and KCTU for the assistance and hospitality. The Mission visited Korea at an important crossroad: after almost one and half years into tripartite negotiations on a “Roadmap” to bring Korean legislation in line with ILO standards, only a few weeks were now left before the deadline established by the Government for finding a tripartite agreement without which it would go ahead and unilaterally propose legislation. Both KCTU and FKTU criticized the government for such a stance since very few meetings had actually taken place at tripartite level. Currently a “High Level Panel” had been established (including both FKTU and KCTU Presidents) and the negotiations were at a crucial phase. 

    Through the tripartite process, 23 points had already been agreed, but several critical ones were still unresolved, such as: payment of full time officials, trade union pluralism, compulsory arbitration, compensation for damages, provisional seizure of trade union assets, extension of TUR to fire fighters, redundancy of workers, false self-employment, repressive measures.  

    The Mission met with leadership of the FKTU and KCTU and their affiliates as well as with the Minister of Labour. It also visited a number of work sites and saw at first hand the disturbing effects of current Korean labour legislation and state interference, which does not respect fundamental workers’ rights. One of the most striking examples is the recent directive (January 2006) issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOGAHA) to encourage the “voluntary withdrawal of membership” by public officials who are members of the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU), forced closure of offices for the trade unions that refuse to register under the current severe limitations, criminalization of trade union activities (such as the directive establishing possible prison terms for wearing a vest with trade union insignia during working hours. A visit was made to a prison in Daegu to meet with imprisoned leadership of the local construction workers union, Daegu local union affiliated with the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions. These trade unionists were charged with “forcing” construction site managers to sign collective bargaining agreements on behalf of unprotected subcontracted labour and thus “extorting” funds as a result of these agreements. A visit was also made to Kiryung Electronics, where the company discriminated against union members terminating contracts and dismissing members of the union beginning in July 2005 (a case included in a recent ILO complaint filed by the KMWF, KCTU and IMF). Finally, the mission visited the KTX Crew Union, which was entering in the 200 day of strike following the KTX’s (bullet train authority) refusal to enter into negotiation on the block dismissal of many crew workers, all of them women.

    The central recommendation of the mission was that it is essential that the Korean government reform labour legislation to bring it into line with the ILO jurisprudence on core labour rights as repeatedly and unanimously recommended by the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association, the last time at its March 2006 sitting. 

    It is worth noting that the Korean case No. 1865 (1995) is now the second longest running ILO Freedom of Association Case after the Colombia Case No. 1787 (1994). The members of the Mission called for a halt to the repression and imprisonment of trade unionists most notably in the public sector and construction sector that have accelerated during the course of 2006. The mission hoped that rapid conclusion can be reached on the outstanding items in the Road Map that would bring Korean legislation into line with freedom of association principles and urged that the tripartite process and cooperation between the FKTU and the KCTU be strengthened. The mission called on the OECD to reinforce this message in its discussion with the Korean government particularly in the light of the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Korea’s membership of the organisation and the up-coming monitoring round of Korean labour legislation by the OECD Employment Committee (ELSAC) . 

    Korea joined the ILO on 9 December 1991 and the OECD in 1996: since then ICFTU, TUAC and other Global Union partners have worked with their Korean affiliates – the FKTU and the KCTU - to support efforts to bring the labour law in Korea in line with internationally recognised standards on freedom of association and collective bargaining to allow all workers to form and join trade unions of their own choosing. 

    On joining the OECD in 1996 the Korean authorities made the commitment “to reform existing laws on industrial relations in line with internationally accepted standards, including those concerning basic rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining”. Following the moves by the then government in the opposite direction in January 1997 and subsequent concerns expressed by the ILO, TUAC and a number of OECD member countries, the OECD Council instructed the Committee for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELSAC), to “monitor closely the progress made on labour reforms in the light of that commitment”. That process has continued to date.  

    It would be unfair not to recognize that steps forward have taken place. It is clear that the continuous attention of the ILO CFA and the OECD monitoring procedure have been important elements in the process of generating peer-group pressure that resulted in progress being made in reforming Korean labour law in line with international standards in the period 1998-1999. This is notably true with regard to the improvement of trade union rights in July 1999 and the legalisation of the KCTU later in the same year as well as the legalisation of educational unions and the partial reform of the law on third party intervention.  

    However since the completion of the 2000 OECD Labour Market Review on Korea, successive Korean governments have failed to make significant progress towards bringing “legislation in line with internationally accepted standards”. The current labour legislation and government practice to criminalise trade union activity remain the subject of repeated criticism by national and international trade union organisations as well as by the ILO for failing to guarantee basic trade union rights to all workers.  

    Recent Developments  

    In the Roadmap for industrial relations reform published in 2004 the government indicated the steps it intended to take to further reform labour law and in principle address some although not all of the above issues.  

    Although tripartite discussions have advanced on the Road Map during the summer of 2006, there has been a significant repression by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOGAHA) of the largest of the civil servants freely chosen unions – the Korean Government Employees Union – the KGEU. 

    The pressure on public sector workers is enormous: members of KGEU and their families often receive personal telephone calls at home outside working hours in order to disaffiliate from the union. Local authorities that would not want to impose restriction on organizing are kept under the threat of not receiving public funds. The strategy of intimidation, not surprisingly, is having an effect: for example, the Kyunggido branch (Provincial authority) of the KGEU which we visited has now 400 members compared to 1,167 at the beginning of 2006. It is important to reiterate that, in this example as for many others, this local union had been organized since the year 2000, when workers’ councils were established. In 2002 when the KGEU was launched, out of 1,400 eligible workers at the work site, 800 joined the union, with the membership subsequently growing. 

    The Mission also visited the KGEU branch of the Rural Development Administration, a research agency that is considered by the government as “essential sector”. Again the information was that the union had been able to conduct peaceful negotiations in the past years (out of 1,300 eligible workers, 1,000 were members) but since May 7 members had been dismissed for having demanded negotiation on the issue of promotions (it should be recalled that local unions have no power to negotiate salaries – wages are decided unilaterally by the central government – but can negotiate bonuses or incentives). While the visit was conducted in the union’s facilities inside the RDA, we were informed that the facility would have been sealed on August 31st (the same letter has been received by unions in over 250 institutions). 

    The issue of the informalisation of the economy (the Korean informal sector is the largest among OECD countries and growing) was also at the centre of our Mission. One labour leader effectively put the issue in the right terms: “the government tells us that we do not represent informal sector workers, but when we decide to organize them we are immediately criminalised”. This was particularly visible in the construction sector, which has recently experienced a surge of more than one hundred trade union activists in the construction sector jailed for seeking to exercise what in other countries would be normal trade union activities – namely collective bargaining with main building contractors.

    The trade union leaders we met in jail had tried to reach a collective bargaining agreement with a subcontractor. He was in prison awaiting trial most probably facing a two-year in jail for charges that included obstruction of business, assembly, extortion, blackmail. The most serious charges defined collective bargaining with main contractors on behalf of sub-contract workers as extortion. The contractors had come to the table and were ready to negotiate, but the prosecutors charged the unions with criminal conduct. While many lawyers of sub-contractors make the bargaining situation difficult per se, it is a fact that for the time being in Korea collective bargaining in the construction sector is currently carried out in more than 10 districts in the country. The more this sector has become profitable, the more the government is squeezing workers’ rights. It was felt that while in the ‘80s and ‘90s the situation had steadily improved, now workers are going backwards in the construction sector, but also in metalworking and other sectors. Estimates state that 60-70% of the total Korean workforce is irregular workers (non-permanent, part-time, contract, sub-contract and “dispatched” workers). 

    It should be noted that of the more than 2 million workers in the construction industry, 80% are irregular workers. Working conditions faced by irregular workers in the construction industry are horrendous: at least two workers die as a result of an accident per construction site. The majority of workers work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week with no suitable facilities, medical benefits, vacation or overtime paid. The system of payment is such that workers are not paid until at least one or two months after they have completed work. Nevertheless, construction unions have been actively trying to organize workers in the construction industry. If unions are capable to organize them, then there are no excuses for not bargaining better working conditions for all, hence the heavy repression towards the unions. This took a tragic turn during August 2006 with the death of Ha Jeung Koon, a member of the Pohang local union of the KFCITU who died of severe beating by riot police during one of the demonstrations organized by the union. It is important to recall that another worker, Kim Tae-hwan, the chair of FKTU's Chungju regional chapter, was killed on 14 June 2005 when he was run over by a cement truck while on the picket line in front of the Sajo Remicon cement factory: the fact that lead to the one year delay in holding the ILO Regional meeting. 

    The Mission was able to meet Mr. Lee, Minister of Labour of Korea (riot police were called at the entrance of the MoL when we entered the compound). In May 2006 the MoL had issued a press statement calling the recommendations of the ILO CFA “incautious and inconsistent” and “beyond the ILO’s powers”. Our first question was for an explanation: the Minister spoke about “misunderstandings”. He spoke of a difficult phase that MoL was not alone in taking decisions. He also candidly admitted that Korea was not able to ratify ILO C. 105 since trade unionists can be sent to prison under the current criminal law, so the ratification has to wait. While he was adamant that the government had no intention to give the right of collective action to public workers, he recognized MoL rulings on the use of illegally dispatched workers in the metalworking sector, though on the remedy of regularizing these workers he pointed to conflicting opinions between MoL and prosecutors, eventually hiding behind the independence of powers (“it is quite difficult for the government to challenge the judicial once the court has adopted a ruling”…. he did not admit that if the government would change the legislation to bring it into line with ILO standards, the judiciary could easily issue different ruling). 

    Subsequent visits to other unions confirmed the growing precarisation of the workforce and the attempts to weaken the collective representation by the labour movement. The Korean government and employers at the last ILC spoke about the idea to introduce legislation that would further flexibilize the labour market, through a bill on selfemployment which would further reduce labour protection (out of 8 estimated million irregular workers, 2 million are self-employed: the classic example is the one of truck drivers, who were all permanent employees up to the early ‘90s when they suddenly became self-employed, even if the contractors decide everything from hours of work, wages, etc). 

    Conclusion of the ICFTU/TUAC/Global Union Federation Mission 

    The mission was deeply concerned over the worsening labour situation in Korea where serious violations of workers and trade union rights are taking place. The violence perpetrated against workers involved in peaceful rallies and demonstrations to uphold their fundamental rights and improve their wages and working conditions is of deep concern. Such aggression had caused the deaths of two workers and injuries to many others and led in recent months to the imprisonment of more than one hundred unionists. The mission called for the immediate release of detained trade unionists. 

    The mission also strongly condemned the violation of public servants’ right to freedom of association with the forced closure of many union offices that has accelerated during the course of 2006. It urged the government of Korea to honour and respect workers’ rights as embodied under the ILO core labour standards and its commitment given to the OECD in 1996. 

    Recalling the Conclusions adopted by the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association at its March 2006 sitting, the mission strongly urged the Korean government to make the following changes in its labour legislation: 

    Fully guarantee the rights of public employees by:

    (i) ensuring that all public servants including those at Grade 5 or higher have the right to form their own associations and not to define this category of staff so broadly as to weaken the organizations of other public employees;

    (ii) guaranteeing the right of firefighters to establish and join organizations of their own choosing;

    (iii) limiting any restrictions of public servants’ right to strike only to those who are in the essential services as defined by the ILO;

    (iv) reversing the order to close down offices of public employees’ unions that have exercised their fundamental right to establish organizations of their own choosing for several years already. 

    In respect of all workers, the mission also urged the Government:

    (i) to take rapid steps for the legalization of trade union pluralism at the enterprise level so as to guarantee at all levels the right of workers to establish and join the organization of their own choosing;

    (ii) to allow workers and employers to conduct free and voluntary negotiations in respect of the question of payment of wages by employers to full-time union officials, rather than to legislate on this issue;

    (iii) to amend the list of essential public services in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Amendment Act (TULRAA) so that the right to strike may be restricted only in essential services in the strict sense of the term;

    (iv) to repeal the notification requirement and the heavy penalties, including imprisonment, for exercising the fundamental right of collective bargaining;

    (v) to repeal the provisions prohibiting dismissed and unemployed workers from keeping their union membership and making non-union members ineligible to stand for trade union office;

    (vi) to immediately bring section 314 of the Penal Code (obstruction of business) in line with freedom of association principles, ensuring that investigations will not include detention for workers that have tried to exercise their fundamental rights;

    (vii) to refrain from any act of interference in the activities of FKTU and KCTU, such as violent police intervention in rallies, injury of trade unionists, intimidation and harassment of trade union leaders and members;

    (viii) to issue appropriate instructions so that all actions of intimidation and harassment against the unions officials cease immediately, to review all convictions and prison sentences, and to compensate officials for any damages suffered as a result of their prosecution, detention and imprisonment;

    (ix) to promote recognition that collective agreements negotiated with main contractors can apply to all workers including those hired by subcontractors.  

    The mission urged the Government of Korea to finalise the “roadmap” in full consultation and bona fide negotiation with FKTU and KCTU in order to positively and promptly address the above issues. 

    The mission called for the prompt establishment of an independent Commission of Inquiry on the recent deaths of two construction workers and for the release of all unionists who are currently detained simply for having exercised their fundamental rights. 

    It urged the government to refrain from the heavy use of the “riot police” in dealing with industrial relation matters, since the climate of intimidation and confrontation fuelled by this menacing presence is not conducive to the peaceful resolution of outstanding matters. 

    It also urged ILO and OECD to take all the appropriate steps to assist FKTU and KCTU in their legitimate claim to uphold workers’ rights in Korea:

    - the International Labour Office should provide technical assistance in redrafting current legislation;

    - the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association and the OECD ELSA Committeee should send a mission to Korea to reinforce their respective monitoring process. 

    Finally the Mission urged the international labour movement to renew international solidarity and focus on the Korean situation. 

    These conclusions were also supported in a statement issued by the ILO workers group attending the ARM on 30 August. 

    Immediately after the Asian Regional Meeting, the government decided to table legislation postponing the commitment to multiple unions at company level for a further three years. The members of the Mission consider that this decision, even though it came out of a negotiating situation, represents a disturbing step backwards from freedom of association as defined by the ILO. 

    Hence, we reiterate the need for the Korean government to promptly amend legislation in order to fully adhere to the recommendations of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association and to give immediate and constructive answers to all the points raised in the Conclusions of the ICFTU/TUAC/GUFs Fact Finding Mission of August 2006.  

    Anna Biondi, Director ICFTU Geneva Office, Secretary ILO Workers’ Group

    John Evans, General Secretary OECD-TUAC

    Subramaniam Kandiah, Director ICFTU-APRO

    Balan Nair, General Secretary BWI_APRO

    Katsuhiko Sato, General Secretary PSI-APRO

    Ron Blum, Director IMF Automobile Section 
    Government Suppression against the Trade Union Activities

    List of Trade Unionists Imprisoned (As of September, 2006) 


    No. Name Union Title Charge/Incident Legal Status
    1. Yoo Ki Soo KFCITU General Secretary Protest Against the Death of Ha Joong Keun Rally Undergoing Trial
    2. Lee Young Rok Kyonggido Local Union, KFCITU General Secretary Extortion/Bribery Regarding signing of CBAs Undergoing Trial
    3. Kim Jong Deuk Kyonggido Local Union, KFCITU Union Member Extortion/Bribery Regarding signing of CBAs Undergoing Trial
    4. Cho Joon Haeng Kyonggido Local Union, KFCITU Vice President Extortion/Bribery Regarding signing of CBAs Undergoing Trial
    5. Lee Kwang Il Kyonggido Local Union, KFCITU Previous President Extortion/Bribery Regarding signing of CBAs Undergoing Trial
    6. Moon Jung Yu Daegu Local Union, KFCITU Organizing Team Leader Daegu Local Union General Strike (June, 2006) Undergoing Trial
    7. Oh Sang Yong Daegu Local Union, KFCITU General Secretary Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Undergoing Trial
    8. Kim Eun Soo Daegu Local Union, KFCITU First Vice President Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Undergoing Trial
    9. Sin Hyun Beum Daegu Local Union, KFCITU Branch Director Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Undergoing Trial
    10. Cho Ki Hyun Daegu Local Union, KFCITU President Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Undergoing Trial
    11. Lee Kil Yu Daegu Local Union, KFCITU Vice President Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Undergoing Trial
    12. Lee Seung Yu Daegu Local Union, KFCITU Vice President Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Undergoing Trial
    13. Moon Kang Ho Daegu Local Union, KFCITU Branch Director Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Undergoing Trial
    14. Jang Ok Ki Dump Truck Drivers Local, KFCITU  Branch Director Dump Truck Drivers General Strike (April, 2006) Undergoing Trial
    15. Park Hae Wook Ulsan Local Union, KFCITU President Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Imprisonment. 2

    years & 6 months

    16. Choi Seuk Young Ulsan Local Union, KFCITU Union Delegate Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Imprisonment. 2 years & 6 months
    17. Kang Sang Kyu Ulsan Local Union, KFCITU Union Member Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Imprisonment. 1 year & 6 months.
    18. Lee Moon Hee Ulsan Local Union, KFCITU Vice-Team Leader Daegu Local Union General Strike (June 2006) Imprisonment. 1 year & 6 months.
    19. Lee Ok Seun Choongnam Local Union, KFCITU Organizing Director Extortion/Bribery Regarding signing of CBAs Undergoing Trial
    20 Ha Dong Hyun Choongnam Local Union, KFCITU President Extortion/Bribery Regarding signing of CBAs Undergoing Trial
    21. Jin Nam Soo Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Strategic Director Pohang Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    22. Ji Kap Ryul Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Acting President Pohang Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    23. Kim Young Joo Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Organizing Director Pohang Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    24. Choi Young Kyu Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Organizing Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 1 year and 6 months. On appeal
    25. Kim Jong Moo Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Trade Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 year. On appeal
    26. Park Deuk Yu Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Member Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 1 year and 6 months. On appeal
    27. Jin DeukWon Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Trade Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 year. On appeal
    28. Kim Sang Eun Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Organizing Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 1 year and 6 months. On appeal
    29 Park Woong Hee Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Trade Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 year. On appeal
    30. Kim Young Sik Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Organizing Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 1 year and 6 months. On appeal
    31. Kwon Il Young Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Trade Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 year. On appeal
    32. Kim Yoong Seuk Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Delegate Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 1 year and 6 months. On appeal
    33. Lee Jung Mo Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Organizing Leader Pohang Local Union Stike Sentence: 1 year and 6 months. On appeal
    34. Jung Seung Jong Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Vice President Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years and 6 months. On appeal.
    35. Kim Myung Seun Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Campaign Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years and 6 months. On appeal.
    36. Kim Bong Tae Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Campaign Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years and 6 months. On appeal.
    37. Kim Hak No Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Trade Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years. On appeal.
    38. Sin Soo Bok Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Union Member Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 1 year and six months. On appeal.
    39. Jung Eun Sik Pohang Local Union, KFCITU First Vice President Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years and 6 months. On appeal.
    40. Jung Kap Do Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Trade Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years. On appeal.
    41. Chang Jae Yun Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Union Member Pohang Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    42 Sim Jin Bo Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Organizing Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years and 6 months. On appeal.
    43. Choi Jin Dong Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Trade Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years. On appeal.
    44. Park Seung Woong Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Cultural Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 1 year and 6 months. On appeal.
    45. Kwon Young Dae Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Union Member Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 1 year and 6 months. On appeal.
    46 Lee Ji Kyung Pohang Local Union, KFCITU President Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 3 years and 6 months. On appeal.
    47 Kim Byung Kyul Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Organizing Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years and 6 months. On appeal.
    48. Kim Young Jo Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Trade Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years. On appeal.
    49. Kim Joong Yu Pohang Local Union, KFCITU Trade Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years. On appeal.
    50. Lim Hyung Jin Hynix Union General Secretary Hynix Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    51. Song Dae Koon Hynix Union Auditor Hynix Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    52. Ha Myung Hak Hynix Union Union Member Hynix Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    53 Yang Soon Jik Hynix Union Legal Director Hynix Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    54 Oh Byung Young Hynix Union Union Member Hynix Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    55. Shin Jae Ko Hynix Union Trade Director Hynix Local Union Strike Sentence: 1 year and 6 months. On appeal.
    56. Kim Tae Yoon Hyundai Auto Irregular Workers Union Previous First Vice President Hyundai Auto Irregular Workers Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    57. Choi Byung Seung Hyundai Auto Irregular Workers Union General Secretary Hyundai Auto Irregular Workers Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    .58. Kim Joon Kyu Hyundai Auto Asan Subcontract Workers Union Previous Auditor Hyundai Auto Asan Subcontract Workers Union Struggle Sentence: 6 months. On appeal
    59. Oh Ji Hwan Hyundai Auto Asan Subcontract Workers Union Previous General Secretary Hyundai Auto Asan Subcontract Workers Union Struggle Sentence: 6 months. On appeal
    .60. Kwon Soo Jeung Hyundai Auto Asan Subcontract Workers Union Previous Trade Director Hyundai Auto Asan Subcontract Workers Union Struggle Sentence: 8 months. On appeal.
    .61. Park Jung Hoon Hyundai Hysco Irregular Workers Union Trade Director Hyundai Hysco Irregular Workers Union Struggle Imprisonment: 1 year and 6 months.
    62. Um Ki Joon Yooseun Metal Workers Union, KMWF   National Workers Rally (November 2003) Imprisonment: 4 years.
    63. Kim Jae Jin Kwangyang Branch, KMWF Deputy General Secretary Hyundai Hysco Irregular Workers Union Struggle Undergoing Trial
    64. Lee Tae Young KCTU Vice President Extortion/Bribery Regarding signing of CBAs Undergoing Trial
    65. Choi Keun Sik KCTU Communications Director Pohang Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    66. Choi Eun Mi KCTU Vice President Pohang Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    67. Kim Byung Il Kyung Book Branch, KCTU Branch Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years. On appeal
    68. Chun Phil Won Ulsan Branch, KCTU Organizing Director Pohang Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    69. Song Moo Keun Pohang Branch, KCTU Education Director Pohang Local Union Strike Sentence: 2 years. On appeal
    70. Hwang Yo Chan Pohang Branch, KCTU Director Pohang Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial.
    71. Kim Young Jik Choongbuk Branch, KCTU Organizing Director Hynix Union Strike Imprisonment: 1 year and 6 months
    72. Kim Seung Hwan Samsung Ilban Union President Samsung Ilban Union Struggle Imprisonment: 3 years and 5 months
    73. Lee Young Do Ulsan Branch, KCTU First Branch Director Pohang Local Union Strike Undergoing Trial
    74. Kang Seung Chul Fired Workers Union Acting President Protest Against the Tripartite Agreement Undergoing Trial
    75. Byung Wae Seung Fired Workers Union Previous Acting President Protest Against the Tripartite Agreement Undergoing Trial
    .76. Park Sang Kil Fired Workers Union Organizing Director Protest Against the Tripartite Agreement Undergoing Trial
    77. Yeon Jae Il Fired Workers Union Member Protest Against the Tripartite Agreement Undergoing Trial
     
     

     

     

      
    UNION MEMBER DIES DUE TO SEVERE BEATING BY RIOT POLICE 

    At 2:30 am on August 1, 2006 Ha Joong Keun, a member of the Pohang Local Union, an affiliate of the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU), KCTU died. He was severely beaten by riot police during a demonstration in front of POSCO headquarters on July 16. At that time, close to 3,000 members of the Pohang Local Union were participating in a sit-down demonstration inside POSCO headquarters.      

    Pohang Local goes on Strike 

    On July 1, the over 4,000 members of the Pohang Local union went on strike. The union’s key demands were a 15% increase in wages, implementation of a five-day work week, and dignity and respect at the work site. Although the union members are hired by subcontractors, the majority work at the construction plants operated by POSCO; and thus, POSCO has a tremendous influence over the subcontractors in whether they negotiate with the union or not. Recognizing this, on July 11, the union was able to get an agreement from the POSCO management that they would mediate so that the sub contractors would not only negotiate with the union but more importantly POSCO agreed to work towards a positive and constructive resolution to the strike. However; two days later, the union discovered that POSCO had brought in replacement workers. In doing this, POSCO clearly breached the good-faith agreement with the union.   

    Angered, over 3,000 union members marched to POSCO headquarters to confirm whether the revelations were indeed correct. Rather than admitting that they had indeed hired replacement workers, the management stated that they had no role in the matter and they were neutral parties in the employer relationship between the union and the sub contractors and the main contractor. The union held its ground and sought an apology from the POSCO management. In response, POSCO refused and called in the riot police to forcibly remove the workers.   

    Union Members enter POSCO Headquarters 

    Fearing that they would be forcibly disbursed by at least 10,000 riot police, on July 14 the workers, spontaneously decided to go inside POSCO headquarters and conduct a sit-down demonstration rather than engage in a violent confrontation with the riot police. POSCO has alleged that the union had deliberately planned the “occupation” but it is clear that the union had not prepared for such a large-scale action as evident by the union’s purchase of larges cases of water and food after the union members had entered POSCO headquarters. 

    For nine days, the workers remained holed up in the POSCO headquarters from the fifth floor to the ninth floor surrounded by thousands of riot police. During the lock-in, the union representatives and the sub contractors held a two-day negotiation session which ended in failure. Although the union had requested POSCO to mediate the dispute as they had earlier agreed, POSCO refused. In fact the management chose to increase the pressure and repression against the union. In two occasions POSCO cut off all power in the building; thus in the last four days of the sit-down demonstration, the workers had no access to water or electricity. 

    Union Repression---Ha Joong Keun Severely Beaten by Riot Police 

    In addition, thousands of riot police were called from all across the country to possibly forcibly remove the workers from the building. Outside POSCO headquarters, the remaining union members conducted solidarity demonstrations which inevitably resulted in confrontations with the riot police. At a rally coordinated by the KFCITU on July 16, the clashes with the police was so brutal that several members were beaten forcing them to be hospitalized. It was at this rally that Ha Joong Keun was beaten severely on the head by riot police who kept on pounding his head with their metal shields. This clearly further fueled the anger and frustration of the remaining members out side the POSCO headquarters and thus, many union members wielded steel pipes to protect themselves from the riot police in several demonstrations after Ha was hospitalized. 

    Furthermore, on July 19 in a regional rally coordinated by the Kyonggido Branch of the KCTU, the police not only surrounded the more than 3,000 demonstrators and blocked them from getting close to POSCO headquarters to support those locked inside, the police used water spray to break up the demonstration. Also, bus loads of supporters, mainly members of the KFCITU locals were blocked by riot police from leaving the nearby cities of Yeosoo, Daegu, and Ulsan to support the Pohang local union. There were even some buses carrying union members that were stopped in the highway and barred from entering the city of Pohang. 

    Organizing to Change the Construction Site at POSCO, where the Working Conditions are Dangerous and Inhumane. 

    The Pohang local union, formed in 1989 is one of four local unions (Yeosoo local, Chunnamdongbu local, and Ulsan local) that comprises the Network of Construction Plant Workers Union within the KFCITU.  Construction plant workers work in the construction and reconstruction of big factories and plants that are used to produced petrochemicals, oils, and other dangerous chemicals. In the case of POSCO, it is the production of steel. 

    The work is backbreaking and extremely dangerous, as the workers are exposed to a series of hazardous products and chemicals that can cause serious illnesses and possibly terminal diseases. Although POSCO prides itself in protecting the environment and incorporating environmental sustainability in its steel production, construction plant workers work daily in dangerous and unsafe working conditions in POSCO plants. This year to date, there have been at least twenty minor a major industrial accidents but 95% of these accidents are unreported and deliberately hidden from public and government scrutiny. In addition, even though the use of asbestos is banned in South Korea, it is still used in POSCO plants, and thus, workers are exposed to a scientifically known substance that causes lung cancer.   

    Although South Korea is considered an OECD country, the workers in POSCO must work in working conditions similar to that of those in developing countries. Since the construction plants have no washing or changing facilities, the workers are forced to change outdoors. The bathrooms are inadequate, insufficient, and filthy. In fact, in a work site consisting of 3,000 workers, there are only 6 to 7 bathrooms and about 5 to 7 portable bathrooms. Furthermore, since there is basically no canteen or eating facility in the POSCO construction plant, workers are forced to eat at the worksite, sometimes on the dirty floor or ground 

    In addition, on an average, construction plant workers work 8 to 10 hours a week, seven days a week, totally 70 hours. They are denied any social and medical benefits or vacation pay. In fact is a “dream” of many construction plant workers to have at least one day of the week off so they can spend time with their families.  Thus, it is not surprising and completely normal that construction plant workers who have worked for more than twenty years have rarely spent time with their children, and as in the words of one worker, “I worked the entire time and during this time my daughter is no longer a child.” 

    Relationship between Sub Contractors and POSCO 

    The members of the Pohang local union are categorized as subcontract and irregular (non-permanent) workers in South Korea. Since regular (permanent) workers are hired directly by the company they are guaranteed three basic labor rights---the right to organize, the right to strike, and the right to bargain. On the other hand, sub contract workers must negotiate with the sub contractors as they are hired by them but in reality the real power in terms of determining wages, working conditions, and work hours lies with the user company, the main contractor. Most user companies are big conglomerates such as SK Petrochemicals, LG Caltex, and POSCO.  

    In many cases user companies have terminated contracts with sub contracts once the workers organize and form a union. Because of this, many sub contract companies refuse to negotiate with the union.  Furthermore, both the user company and the sub contract company shift the blame between each other in refusing to recognize and negotiate the union. It should be also noted that many sub contracting companies are owned by former top level managers of user companies resulting in an intertwined relationship between the sub contractors and the user company. In the case of Pohang, the main user company is POSCO and thus the real power behind the sub contractors is POSCO.    

    POSCO Made 6 Billion Profits in 2005 at the Expense of its Workers 

    In 2005 it was reported that POSCO made a profit of close to 6 billion dollars (US). Yet, construction plant workers who have contributed tremendously to this profit are paid simply pennies. A construction plant worker at a POSCO plant makes an average of $90 to $95 (US) daily for a ten hour work day, while workers in nearby cities of Ulsan, Chunnamdongbu, and Yeosoo make an average of $120 to $150 (US) daily.  

    POSCO Contradicts Company Codes of Conduct and Launches Systematic Campaign to Destroy the Pohang Local Union 

    As many big conglomerates, POSCO is very conscious of its public image both within and outside of South Korea. POSCO has donated millions of dollars to environmental, cultural, and human rights organizations.  It has also launched the POSCO TJ Park Prize, an international award to be given annually beginning from 2007 for “achievements in community development & philanthropy, science, and education. According to its materials, the Community Development and Philanthropy Prize will be given to “an individual or organization that has made outstanding achievements with the enhancements in the quality of human lives in Asia.” Before POSCO starts giving awards to others in enhance the quality of life, they should start at home by making sure those workers who work at their facilities work in a safe and decent environment and that they are paid enough to improve the quality of their lives as well as those of their families. 

    In June 2003, POSCO prided itself in adopting a company Codes of Conduct in order to, “implement corporate ethics that meet internationally accepted standards thus making another bold step toward becoming a globally respected and trusted company.” In both the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, there are specific articles pertaining to the right to organize, the right to join a union, and the right to strike. Even though the members of the Pohang Local union are not directly hired by POSCO, they still work in a POSCO work site and thus the international conventions comply. However, recent internal documents that were made public by the union revealed that POSCO had a deliberate and systematic campaign to utilize its political and economic clout at all levels to basically destroy the Pohang local union 

    POSCO urged the government to send in thousands of riot police from across the country to basically use force if necessary to break the strike. POSCO also galvanized the local citizens of Pohang to launch counter demonstrations against the union, stating that the union was creating a bad image to the city.  Since POSCO controls at least 70% of the city’s economy, clearly the local government and the businesses are heavily influenced by POSCO. POSCO also used its influence to launch a highly distorted media campaign against the unions through major media outlets such as KBS and Chosun Ilbo.  In fact the mainstream media has portrayed the union as violent and engaging in illegal activities, while POSCO has been portrayed as the “innocent victim.” Finally, it should be noted that POSCO had a plan to employ replacement workers and migrant workers during the strike. By brining in migrant workers, POSCO was attempting to increase the tension between migrant workers and native workers. These actions and the campaign to destroy the Pohang local union are clear violations of all international human rights and cultural conventions that honor trade union rights and thus, contradict POSCO’s own Codes of Conduct. 

    Government Employees’ Basic Labour Rights In Korea 

    Korean Government Employees’ Union 

    I. Problems and Shortcomings of the Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials’ Trade Unions” 

    1. Lack of Democracy in the Legislation Process 

    In April 2003, the then Minister Kim Doo-kwan of the Ministry of Government and Home Affairs and the then Minister Kwon Ki-hong of the Ministry of Labour, in a meeting with the then president Cha Bong-cheon of the Korean Government Employees Union had promised to draft a bill “through a process of sufficient hearing of views, as the substance would be secondary importance”. However, in May 2003, the Ministry of Labour announced unilaterally, in total disregard to the earlier promise, to table the draft bill for the Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials’ Trade Union with the National Assembly. The tabling was, however, postponed in November following an instruction by President Roh Moo-hyun. However, the Ministry of Labour tabled the bill with the National Assembly in October 2004 without a process of consultation with the government employees in the civil service. 

    At the time, the Council of Representatives of Workplace Associations in the Ministry of Labour, which represented public officials in the Ministry of Labour that was responsible for drafting the bill had issued a statement on August 27, 2004, declaring “the government bill allows trade unions only in name. In terms of substance, it is a product of the deceitful intent not to allow genuine trade unions of public officials. The government bill, in prohibiting the right to collective action, aims to make the trade union powerless. The government bill is one that aims to repress trade unions of public officials.” 

    The Korean Government Employees Union opposed the government bill for its failure to reflect the views of the very workers it is supposed to serve, and demanded a fresh start to draft a new bill. On September 19, 2004, at a meeting with the KGEU, held to present the union’s views, the Minister Kim Dae-hwan of the Ministry of Labour declared that “there is no problem at all with the draft bill for Public Officials Trade Unions Act produced by the Ministry of Labour, and there’s no need to talk” and left the meeting unilaterally. 

    The Government subsequently tabled the unilaterally drafted bill with the National Assembly and forced through its passage. At the same time, the Government had violently cracked down on the KGEU’s planned vote of all its members on strike against the proposed laws. In the process, some 3,000 public officials who were members of the KGEU were subject to disciplinary action and some 400 members who were leaders of the union were dismissed following the KGEU’s strike. 

    2. The Right to Organise 

    The Article 5 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act states “workers are free to establish a trade union or join it” leaving the union itself to determine the scope of membership. The subparagraph 4 of the Article 2 disqualifies a union if allow as a member “an employer or other persons who always act in their employer’s interest”. The actual scope of this exclusion is set through jurisprudence. 

    The Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials’ Trade Union however denies trade union rights to the following groups of public officials

    • public official of Grade 5 and higher
    • public officials who exercise the right to direct and supervise other public officials or engage in generally managing other public officials’ affairs
    • public officials, such as those performing jobs related to personnel and remuneration, who stand in the position of administrative agencies in relations to a trade union
    • public officials who engage in correction, investigation and other similar jobs
    • public officials whose main jobs, such as mediating and inspecting labor relations, are considered incompatible with their status as union members (Article 6)
     

    The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, in October 2004, estimated the number of public officials ineligible to be members of a union as follows:

    • public officials of Grade 5 or higher: 37,007 (Grade 5 = 26,198; Grade 4 or higher = 10,809)
    • public officials in correctional service and police: 120,762
    • public officials in supervisory or general management (Grade 6 public officials in municipal governments): 30,156
    • public officials in personnel and remuneration work: 35,000
     

    Based on these estimates, the Ministry estimated the total number of public officials eligible to be members of a trade union to be 330,000 – 360,000. The Ministry of Labour, following the finalisation of the Enforcement Decree in January 2006, found that, as of November 2005, a total of 290,000 public officials out of the total of some 920,000 (excluding soldiers) would be eligible to be members of a trade union.  

    Police, firefighters, and corrective service public officials are denied the right to form or join a union. Furthermore, public officials who “stand in the position of administrative agencies in relations to a trade union”, who amount to some 30,000 are also excluded from trade unions. All public officials of Grade 5 or higher are denied trade union rights. And many public officials of Grade 6 or lower are also excluded from union membership based on the eligibility criteria stipulated in the law or “Enforcement Decree”. 

    Given the reality that significant section of public officials of Grade 5 are engaged in administrative work, they cannot be deemed to be “persons always working in the interest of their employer”.  

    Furthermore, with the introduction and expansion of the team-systems which led to assignment of public officials with middle-level authorisation powers who were mainly responsible for supervisory work to implementation jobs as a part of the effort to enhance work efficiency, considerable portion of public officials of Grade 6 are assigned as team leaders. This had brought about a situation where a majority of Grade 6 public officials come to fit the criteria denying eligibility to be a member of a union, that is, “exercise the right to direct and supervise other public officials” or “engage in generally managing other public officials’ affairs” (Subparagraph 1, Paragraph 1, Article 6, Public Officials Trade Unions Act). This has undermined the “principle” to extend trade union rights to public officials of Grade 6 and lower. 

    The Enforcement Decree of the Public Officials Trade Union Act establishes further restrictions in eligibility by excluding

    • public officials charged with job of directing or supervising other public officials with authority and responsibility to manage their work (including those public officials deputising other public officials with this responsibility) in accordance with on the basis of a law, by-law or regulations, rules, and work division authorised by a law or a by-law
    • public officials mainly engaged in generally directing or supervising other public officials within a department in assistance to the head of the department (including those public officials deputising those public officials with this responsibility)
    • public officials engaged in work concerning appoint, work assignment, disciplinary measures, appeals review, remuneration, pension and other welfare related matters
    • public officials engaged in work concerning drafting and allocation of budget and execution (excluding simple executions) and work concerning the organisation and staff level of an administrative agency
    • public officials engaged in auditing work
    • public officials engaged in security, maintenance of office facilities, maintenance of order, defence security of office, secretarial job or driving of automobiles
     

    This has meant that considerable number of not only Grade 6 public officials, but also Grade 7 public officials are excluded from joining a trade union. 

    Grade 6 public officials who become ineligible to join a union under the Article 3 amount to 30% of those employed in local governments. This surpasses 16.7% anticipated by the law itself. In this regard, The National Human Rights Commission, in its November 28, 2005 ruling found the “Enforcement Decree Draft” which “excludes more than 90% of Grade 6 general public officials in city, kun, ku municipalities from joining a union” is unconstitutional and illegitimate. 

    3. Collective Bargaining and Collective Bargaining Agreement 

    A. Illegitimacy of the Stipulation of Agenda Prohibited from Bargaining 

    The proviso in the Paragraph 1 of the Article 8 of the Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials’ Trade Unions removes “matters concerning policy decisions the State or local governments are authorized to make by laws, etc. and matters concerning the management and operation of the organization, such as exercising the right to appointment, but not directly related to working conditions” from becoming matters for collective bargaining. 

    The inclusion of specific matters to be excluded from becoming subject to collective bargaining, as in the Public Officials Trade Union Act, is a serious infringement on the principle of autonomy of industrial relations. 

    According to a report produced by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, collective bargaining agreements – albeit without legal status – have been concluded in 35 cities, kuns, or ku (various levels of municipality structure) in the last three years since the formation of the Korean Government Employees Union in March 2002. Many of these agreements contain provisions which call for “disclosure of project facilitation expenditure by heads of the organisation”, “enhancement of transparency in matters of personnel decisions”, “avoidance of discretionary contracting in engaging private contractors and strengthening of objective bidding system”. All these provisions target the problems of corruption that are prevalent in the public officialdom. The proviso in the Article 8 Paragraph 1 of the new Public Officials Trade Union Act provides a ground for the heads of organisations to reject the demand of a trade union to include these matters concerning the reform of the government services and corruption issues in collective bargaining. This will lead to pressure on the Korean Government Employees Union to abandon its efforts for “the reform of government services and the eradication of corruption”. 

    B. The relationship between “laws, bylaws, or budget” and collective bargaining agreement  

    The Article 10 Paragraph 1 of the Public Officials Trade Union Act states, “in collective agreements concluded pursuant to Article 9, provisions stipulated by laws, bylaws or budget and provisions stipulated by the authority delegated by laws or bylaws shall not have the effect of collective agreements”. 

    Most of matters concerning wage and working conditions of public officials, including matters of appointment, dismissal, status, salary and other remuneration, and work assignment are governed by “laws, bylaws or budget and provisions stipulated by the authority delegated by laws or bylaws”, such as the State Public Officials Act, State Public Officials Duty Regulation, the Public Officials Remuneration Regulation, the Local Public Officials Act, Local Public Officials Duty Regulation, Local Public Officials Work Bylaw, Local Public Officials Remuneration Regulation, etc. Therefore, even if a collective agreement, which has precedence over these laws, bylaws, budget and other regulations is concluded, it fails to have any effect as a collective agreement on the basis of the Article 10 Paragraph 1 of the Public Officials Trade Union Act. 

    The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs goes even further in extending the area of exclusion in its “Work Manual Concerning Public Officials Organisations”. It provides an interpretation that “rules that set out provision on the basis of authority delegated by a bylaw cannot be subject matters for collective agreement. The Ministry further undermines the effect of collective agreement by stating “the failure to implement those matters which the government’s bargaining representative can legitimately manage and decide on through ‘enforcement decrees’ may be a subject of moral and political burden, but not legal responsibility.” 

    4. The Right to Collective Action 

    The Act on the Establishment and Operation of Public Officials’ Trade Union prohibits collective action by any public official. Such a blanket prohibition, on top of the severe restrictions in the right of collective bargaining and the limitation on collective agreements on matters of working conditions, reduce trade unions and their activities to a state of meaninglessness. Article 18 stipulates that “a person who engages in strikes, work slowdowns and other activities undermining normal business operation … shall be punished by imprisonment of up to five years or a fine not exceeding 50 million won” to enforce the “prohibition of industrial action”. This provision only highlights the innate hostility held by the Korean Government on the very idea of industrial relations and industrial action. 

    5. Other issues 

    The Public Officials Trade Union Act, in stipulating [Article 17(3)] that Articles 88 through 92, and Article 96 (1) 3 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act shall not apply to trade unions under this Act, removes penal action against an employer’s unfair labour practice. As a result, a public officials trade union, which does not have the right to take industrial action, has no legal means to counteract the unfair refusal of an employer to engage in collective bargaining or failure by an employer to implement collective agreement. 

    The Public Officials Trade Union Act also prohibits public officials trade unions and public officials from engaging in political activities (Article 4). The current prohibition of political activities is a copy of the similar prohibition on trade unions in general in the past, reflecting the prevalent hostility to the very idea of trade union activities. Public officials are members of the society, and should be able to engage in political activities, including expression of political views, at least as long as they do not infringe on the work they are responsible for as public officials. Trade unions of public officials should also be able to engage in political activities. The general prohibition of political activities, regardless of their direct links with the actual work of public officials is a gross violation of basic rights. 
     

    II. The Government Actions to Destroy the Korean Government Employees’ Union as the “Public Officials Trade Union Act” Comes into Effect 

    The Korean Government has launched a concerted campaign, with the coming into effect of the “Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials’ Trade Unions” (hereafter, “Public Officials Trade Union Act”), to destroy the existing trade union of government employees in the civil service. The introduction of the new law, which is purportedly aimed at guaranteeing trade union rights of civil service government employees, is being used as the pretext for the Government’s attempt to deny the existence of the Korean Government Employees Union (hereafter, KGEU), which has a membership of 140,000. The Government is refusing to engage in any kind of dialogue with the KGEU; rather, it is intent on destroying it. 

    The attitude and response of the Korean Government towards trade unions of public officials are proving to be no different to that it had demonstrated in 2002, when it mobilised massive police force to disrupt the inauguration assembly of the KGEU, arresting 178 delegates attending the founding conference. 

    The “Joint Announcement” of the Ministers of Justice, Government Administration and Home Affairs, and Labour, declaring “strict measures on illegal activities by organisations of public officials” 

    On February 8, 2006, the Ministers of three government ministries – Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, and the Ministry of Labour – held a joint press conference to issue an “Announcement concerning illegal activities of organisations of public officials”. The joint announcement contained a declaration of the Government’s intent to take strict measures on illegal activities by illegal organisations of public officials, such as, the so-called Korean Government Employees Union”.  

    The Government made clear that the joint announcement was undertaken to “make clear that the Government is committed to bring about voluntary withdrawal of membership from illegal organisations and to respond sternly to all illegal activities”. The joint announcement revealed the main forms of action that the Government is planning to take: 1) disallow any collective bargaining and conclusion of collective bargaining agreement with illegal organisations engaged in trade union activities without submitting notice of establishment as a trade union pursuant to the new law; disallow release from work to serve as full-time officers of the union, disallow check-off arrangement, provision of office space, and any other facilities to illegal organisation; 2) force the leaders and public officials who are members of illegal organisations to voluntarily withdraw membership from the illegal organisations; take legal sanctions against any illegal collective activities; but extend active assistance if the currently illegal organisation is intending to transform themselves into legal trade unions; 3) undertake administrative and financial sanctions against local governments which fail to comply with the Government’s directive and engage in collective bargaining or conclude collective bargaining agreement with an illegal organisation, or engage in any other actions which overlook or facilitate illegal activities by the illegal organisations; sanctions may take the form of reduction in the allocation of special revenue, exclusion from various state projects, etc. 

    The Government’s Joint Announcement outlines its basic position in conjunction with the coming into effect, on January 28, 2006, of the Public Officials Trade Union Act. The announcement came soon after the election of the new leadership of KGEU, conducted on January 25, 26 and Februrary 2 and 3 by the vote of all the members of the union and the referendum on the affiliation to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. The Government’s announcement reflects its basic attitude to the KGEU. 

    The attitude of the Government was made clear in the way it had responded to the elections for the new leadership of the KGEU and the referendum on affiliation to the KCTU. The Government refuses to recognise an organisation – KGEU – which has been in existence for five years with a total membership of 140,000. Moreover, it has been intent on interfering in its activities and preventing its continued existence. 

    The “Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership)” 

    The “Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership), adopted by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, and transmitted all government ministries, agencies, and Provinces and Metropolitan Cities, on March 22, 2006, is a clear case of “unfair labour practice” and campaign of repression against the KGEU, not to mention serious human rights violation.  

    The Directive clearly denotes the KGEU as an illegal organisation. The Government logic is simple: the establishment and operation of a public officials trade union is only possible in pursuant to the Public Officials Trade Union Act – therefore, the KGEU is an illegal organisation that has failed to submit notice of establishment pursuant to this law. The notice of establishment, however, is a matter that should be determined independently by a trade union; it is not a matter that the Government or an employer may order or instruct. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, however, dictates that no dialogue and collective bargaining will be permitted for illegal organisation that engages in activities without having submitted a notice of establishment”. It instructs all the Government offices “to force transformation into a legal trade union and to issue orders to voluntarily withdraw membership”. The system of giving notice of establishment is intended to extend rights and protection to a trade union provided by the law. Therefore, it is not the case that a trade union cannot engage in activities for not having given notice of establishment. Furthermore, it is illegitimate to force a dissolution of an organisation and to pressure its members to withdraw membership. The Korean Government Employees Union currently objects to the various problems inherent in the Public Officials Trade Union Act. In refusing to submit notice of establishment pursuant to this flawed law, it may not be able to enjoy the protection that may be extended from this law, but, this does not make it an illegal trade union – if legal status was to be sought, the KGEU could be characterised as a trade union outside the scope of the law. 

    The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs is in position of an employer in industrial relations pertaining to government employees. Its refusal to engage in dialogue, determination of the KGEU as an illegal organisation and efforts to bring about its dissolution, and pressuring the members to withdraw membership is a clear case of hostile action towards an independently formed trade union. It is an act to destroy the trade union. The Ministry also makes clear that it intends to mobilise “all the related Ministries and offices and the public prosecutors office and the police in close cooperation” to push ahead with a “government-wide effort to bring about transformation into legal trade unions and voluntary withdrawal of membership”. The actions outlined by the Ministry contradicts the Government’s rhetoric of commitment to build sound industrial relations. 

    Furthermore, the effort to force a trade union to submit a notice of establishment, or to force “voluntary withdrawal of membership” or “transformation into a legal trade union” by a resolution of a general assembly or delegates conference or to force the resignation of the elected leaders are all unfair labour practices. 

    The Directive issued by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs directs that “The heads of central administrative agencies and offices at all levels and the heads of local governments shall, immediately upon the receipt of this Directive, press the member staff and the Workplace Associations which in reality engage in activities as illegal organisations to transform themselves into legal trade unions at the earliest date as possible, and issue work order to voluntarily withdraw membership from illegal organisations in the form of official letter”. At the same time, it directs that the “work order” should “indicate clearly and in detail the disciplinary measures and disadvantages to be enforced in case of failure to comply with the order”. 

    The Directive outlines detailed measures aimed at destroying the union. It calls for a “prohibition of check-off arrangement for membership due” and threatens sanctions against public officials in supervisory positions who fail to comply fully with the Directive for negligence. It spells out “heavy disciplinary penalties against leaders (exclusion from appointment)”, “forceful measures such as closure of the offices of illegal organisations”, “nullification of all existing agreements and prohibition of all consultation and assistance”, “removal of the name plaque” and instructs to “secure, if necessary, the cooperation of police”. 

    The Directive directs all government offices to establish “man-to-man persuasion team”, and “the high ranking official charged with responsibility” to undertake “individual (joint) contact with the target member of the leadership, visit of the family, telephone calls, to persuade the person in question and his/her family members.” They are instructed to “make clear strongly that there will be disciplinary action for failure to comply with order and other disadvantageous measures, such as punitive fines for illegal use of the term ‘trade union’ (in the case of the organisation and its elected representatives)”.  

    The proposed “individual contacts”, “home visits”, and “telephone calls” to persuade the person in question and his/her family members are cases of serious human rights violation. The establishment of “persuasion teams” to conduct individual contacts to press for withdrawal of membership is an abuse of the state power for the purposes of infringement of freedom of conscience that lies at the heart of human dignity. The idea of visiting family members to force withdrawal of membership from a trade union is no different from threats against family used widely in the past by military regimes in their anti-union drive. 

    The State or local government should not collect personal information for the purposes of trade union repression, human rights violation, and other illegitimate purposes. They cannot make use of the already collective information for the purposes of trade union repression, human rights violation and other illegitimate purposes. But, the Directive directs all local government authorities to collect and submit the list of the elected leaders of the KGEU branches, including those members who had been de-commissioned or dismissed, in blatant violation of human rights. 

    The Directive threatens that the names of the government agencies and local governments with “poor performance” shall be “made public through media release” and will penalised in the “annual agency evaluation and other administrative and financial penalties will be applied”. 

    The Progress in Implementation of the Directive 

    The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs took action to implement the Directive. It sent out an official letter to seeking cooperation of all government offices and organisations and the local governments in establishing and carrying out an “education plan” to “press for the transformation of illegal public officials organisations into legal trade union and to bring about voluntary withdrawal of membership.  

    The Province and Metropolitan City governments directed all the municipal governments and subsidiary organisations to “prohibit the check-off arrangement for the membership dues of illegal public officials organisations and illegal use of the term trade union”.  

    The Directive of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, sent to all government ministries and Province and Metropolitan Cities, then were sent further down the line of the government structure, to all municipal governments and lower level organisations. The Seoul Metropolitan City directed the Ku (municipality, county) Office and organisations under its jurisdiction to the “plan to press illegal public officials organisations to transform into legal trade unions and bring about voluntary withdrawal of membership by the public officials who were members of illegal public officials organisations in an effort to establish a sound and exemplary public officials industrial relations, uphold law and order, and to establish discipline in the public officialdom.” It instructed them to actively carry out the Directive.  

    The municipal governments, thus instructed, began to carry out the Directive towards all public officials. The Directive was relayed to all lower level administrative offices at the eup, myeon, and dong levels, and all local branches of government agencies and service centres.  

    The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has begun to inspect the progress of the implementation of the Directive as planned. The Ministry had instructed all government offices to produce and submit a report on “Check list on the progress of transformation of illegal organisations into legal trade unions”.  

    Ulsan Metropolitan City has produced a report on “Findings from Examination of the State of Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions”, believed to be for the purpose of submission to the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs. While the report contains some exaggeration to embellish the local government’s performance, it does shed a light on the pressures felt by trade unions due to the Ministry’s Directive and the actions and threats of the local government authorities. The authorities seem to be aware of “confidential” plans of groups within some chapters of the KGEU which are considering transformation into legal trade union. The report shows clearly the various efforts undertaken by the authorities to undermine the KGEU, multifaceted pressures to force withdrawal of membership and to bring about a transformation into legal trade union.  

    The Government’s own documents show clearly how it is going about publicly and covertly to pressure more than 140,000 members of the KGEU to withdraw membership and to join “legal trade union”. The KGEU is being branded as illegal organisation as it does not seek to submit notice of establishment pursuant to the new Public Officials Trade Union Act, and its members are subject to various threats and inhuman monitoring. 

    The actions of the Korean Government can be seen as an effort to give legitimacy to the new Public Officials Trade Unions Act which has been subject to much criticism within and without Korea, as it fails to reflect the views of the government employees and their organisations. The intention is to demonstrate that there are “legal” trade unions which accept to operate within the parameters of the new law. In doing so, it hopes to sweep away all the criticism that has pointed out the shortcomings and problems in the new law. The actions of the Government since the coming into effect of the Public Officials Trade Union Act, however, have demonstrated that the it is not so committed to the principle of guaranteeing trade union rights of government employees in the civil service, which is the purported purpose of the new law, but, is, instead, intent on destroying the Korean Government Employees Unions, which has been established as an independent and democratic trade union, with a membership of more than 140,000. The “sound and exemplary public officials industrial relations” – referred to in the Directive -- that the government seeks is being established by repression and attacks on the KGEU. The recent actions of the Korean Government again bring to spot light its attitude that trade union rights of public officials should be limited, restricted, and kept in control for the purposes of “upholding law and order” and “establishing discipline in the public officialdom” as the Government repeats in all its orders and in the Directive.  

    Forceful closing down of KGEU local offices nation wide 

    The Gyeongnam Officials Training Institute, an affiliated agency to the provincial government issued an official letter on August 29 informing that it would execute the administrative action to forcefully close down the KGEU's branch office at 16:00 on August 30 (Gyeongnam Officials Training Center Official Letter, Department of Education Support-1641, August 29, 2006). The warrant attached to the official letter stipulates that, according to the government instruction that prohibits providing offices to unregistered government employees' unions by the public officials trade union act, the forceful administrative action would be executed. 

    Hundreds of riot cops have been deployed around the union office right away. And KGEU members are prohibited from entering the union office except 4 union staffs working there. Riot cops were deployed again inside and outside of the office building and blocked KGEU members from entering the union office. Several union members tried to block the forceful close down of the union office in vain. They were oppressively moved out by the police. The union office was sealed off with thick plywood with a warning sign attached.  

    These closing down of the KGEU offices nation wide is based on "the directive to promote the transformation of illegal organisations into legal trade unions (voluntary withdrawal of membership)" on March 22 by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) and another directive "to take thorough countermeasuring including forceful closing down of the illegal government employees' organisations against illegal activities" (MOGAHA Official Letter, Public Officials Organisation Supervision Team-406, August 3, 2006) is propelling this kinds of actions nation wide.  

    The MOGAHA instructed all the local governments and agencies to weekly submit "performance records regarding the directive on March 22" (MOGAHA Official Letter, Public Officials Organisation Supervision Team-1479, May 23, 2006). The records should have information on "lists of the leaders of illegal organisations", and "outcomes from propelling such transformations".  

    On June 7, the MOGAHA asked for the local governments concerned to take disciplinary measures against the KGEU members participating in the rally in front of the Rural Development Administration on May 25 (MOGAHA Official Letter, Public Officials Organisation Supervision Team-1588, June 7, 2006). The ministry even pointed out the KGEU members concerned with an attached list. (It is provincial or metropolitan city governments that take disciplinary measures against local government employees.) The KGEU Chapter of the Rural Development Administration (RDA) tackled the undemocratic management of the RDA, which promotes the promotion review, and asked to introduce a single grade system. In response to this attempt, the Administrator of the RDA announced that any action, even wearing the trade union jacket would be punished and RDA cleared the site of the demonstration in use of violence. On May 25 around 11:00, members of the KGEU moved to the main gate of the RDA to participate in the KGEU rally. The police blocked the gate despite of the fact that the demonstration was legally reported to the authorities in advance. Members of the KGEU protested against this and got arrested by the riot police from the Suwon Jungbu police station. 

    On June 21, the MOGAHA disseminated another official document, calling on local governments to execute the government directives and instructions and to take stern responses to all illegal activities(MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-1771, June 21, 2006). During the campaign for the local election on May 31, several candidates answered to KGEU's policy questionnaires that they would recognise the unions and guarantee independent trade union activities when elected. The MOGAHA document asked "to discard their written pledge or promise of the governor-elected on recognition of the KGEU". The ministry claimed on the document that "connivance at activities of illegal orgaisations in discord of the government directive would have bad effects on establishing labour relations in civil service." Moreover, the ministry warned that "the local governments that bargain or even conclude a collective agreement with illegal organisations and give any support like overlooking of full-time union staffs, allowing of union dues check-off and providing an office to illegal organisations will be taken to administrative and financial actions government-wide for disadvantages."  

    The KGEU held a rally on July 8 in protest of the government repression. More than 2,000 KGEU members participated in the rally, which was legally notified to the police in advance and held on Saturday. However, the ministry requested local governments and agencies to take "thorough countermeasuring in advance against KGEU's rally on July 8, for it is illegal activities violating public officials act stipulating prohibition of collective activities (MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-1861, June 29, 2006)". At the rally, several officers from the MOGAHA and the police videotaped and photographed the participants of the rally. Shortly after then, the MOGAHA sent local governments and agencies an official letter with the videotape and the photos requesting of the list of the KGEU members participating in the rally (MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-61, July 11, 2006).  

    On August 3, the ministry issued another directive "to take thorough countermeasuring including forceful closing down of the illegal government employees' organisations against illegal activities" (MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-406, August 3, 2006). The ministry requested all the local governments, ministries and agencies to take firm actions against KGEU. It asked "to close down all the KGEU offices in government buildings nation wide by August 31." It asked "to exclude KGEU members from personnel committees, to actively encourage all the government employees joining illegal organisations to withdraw memberships, to prohibit union dues check-off system and to blocking any financial supports like voluntary contribution or donation to the organisations." It asked for "positive efforts to stop payment of union dues through cash management system(CMS)". After prohibition of union dues check-off, KGEU encouraged its members to pay union dues through CMS from the bank account. Finally it stated that the ministry will investigate the actual process and conditions on implementing government directives and instructions together with auditing departments and it will take administrative and financial actions government wide against the local governments that don't implement the directives. 

    In fact, the government held a meeting of the vice-ministers concerned to deal with government employees' organisations on July 21, 2006. The meeting was presided by the Minister of the MOGAHA and confirmed that the government would take actions for disadvantages against the local governments such as Songpa-gu(municipality, district) in Seoul Metropolitan City and Anyang city in Gyeonggi-do(province) that haven't implemented the government directives and instructions. And the ministry listed up what kinds of administrative and financial actions could be taken to give disadvantages to such local governments (MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-317, July 27, 2006).  

    On August 21, the Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs issued and sent all the government employees a letter "demanding to withdraw from illegal organisations such as so-called the KGEU". 

    Again the MOGAHA instructed local governments and agencies again that all the KGEU local offices at government buildings should be closed down by September 22nd. The MOGAHA held a meeting of vice mayors of Metropolitan Cities and vice governors of Provincial Governments on September 4th. The Minister stated that the government direction would not be changed at all. He claimed that notifications or warnings of forceful closing down of illegal organisations' offices should constantly issued and that supervision on government employees should be more intensified in order to block them from joining the KGEU's rally in Gyeongnam on September 9th. The MOGAHA took a much hard-line stance again that those who play leading roles in the KGEU's rally on September 9th should be dismissed and that all other participants should be taken to disciplines.  

    On September 7th, the ministry instructed the local governments, the ministries and the agencies to obstruct the KGEU's campaign against Korea-US FTA as well as to intensify supervision of government employees to prohibit them from joining the rally on September 9th. The KGEU has been actively involved in anti KorUS FTA campaign with other public sector unions like Korean Teachers' Union(KTU) and the Korean Public Service Union(KPSU). The MOGAHA stated that KGEU members' leafletting, placarding, publicising and joining anti KorUS FTA rallies are illegal, since these activities are violating public officials acts and especially government employees are subject to laws and orders. Furthermore, the ministry boasted that the Kor-Us FTA negotiation is one of the core government policies to protect national interests and to promote dynamics for economic development, and instructed that local governments should intensify thorough supervision in order that government employees should not stand against government policies.  

    On the same day, the MOGAHA held a working-level meeting of the officials concerned with illegal activities of government employees’ organisations across the ministries with the police and the prosecutors participated as well and decided to take thorough countermeasures against the KGEU’s rally on 9th. According to a press release from the MOGAHA, the government claimed that the rally was illegal and therefore would be blocked in cooperation with the police and the prosecutors’ office, and that local government should intensify supervision of government employees, and that the local police should stop KGEU members’ departing for the rally from each municipality. It goes further that, when the rally is held, all the illegal activities of government employees participated should be photographed and videotaped for disciplines to be taken. The police also stated that it would intensify inspection and check-ups at every point to the rally venue and block government employees from joining the rally. And furthermore, the police warned that the government employees not obeying ‘persuasion or guidance’ would be arrested.  

    In fact, the rally had already been legally notified to the police in advance. The KCTU, the KGEU affiliated umbrella union, notified that the rally would focus on workers’ demand to stop repression against KGEU. Moreover, it’s on Saturday. It had nothing to do with collective actions in working hours. Although hundreds of government employees trying to join the rally were forced to get back due to the police blockade and questioning at the corners to the rally venue, more than 7,000 KGEU members managed to take part in the rally on September 9th.  

    Right after the rally, the MOGAHA issued a press release stating that it would take the union leaders who organised and led the rally to legal actions and heavy disciplines and that all the participants should be taken to disciplines as well. And the ministry claimed that it would be suing 11 KGEU leaders including president, general secretary, and those who spoke at the rally. They have been summoned by the police and the investigation for violation of Public Officials Act and National Security Law is going on now. The reason why a KGEU vice president is additionally investigated for violation of National Security Law is that the KGEU issued a statement in August demanding to abolish a military exercise mobilizing government employees. In fact, around 70 NGOs and trade union issued similar statements with the same demand then, but only KGEU is investigated by the police.  

    The MOGAHA issued another directive on September 13th. They demanded all the local governments, ministries and agencies to implement closing down of the KGEU local offices nation wide. The ministry warned that those who were adopting a lukewarm attitude will be audited and examined later on. They underlined the schedule as follows; a) issuing warrants of administrative execution of closing down of the union office: by September 15th. b) notifying implementation of the administrative execution : by September 20th. c) implementation of administrative execution of closing down of the union office(nation wide simultaneously): 15:00 September 22nd.  

    From September 22nd, KGEU local offices were attacked nation wide by riot police and specially hired thugs armed with fire extinguishers, fire-fighting dust, hammers, claw hammers, hammer drills and power saws to forcefully close offices down. 125 KGEU offices have been shut down and in many cases doors and walls of union offices were broken through while doors to union offices were sealed off, in some cases even welded, with iron plates or bars. The KGEU members inside the offices were violently pulled out. More than a hundred of KGEU members and solidarity organization members were arrested and some of them were seriously injured.  
     

     

    National Human Rrights Commission of Korea(NHRCK) Recommends Improvements to

    Gender-Discriminative Hiring of Female KTX Attendants  

    The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) has advised the president of the Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL) to improve its gender-discriminative employment structure. This is based on the conclusion that the exclusive hiring of women for Korea Train Express (KTX) customer service positions without justifiable cause and the creation of unfavorable employment conditions by hiring only females, victims in this case, as KTX attendants constitute gender-based employment discrimination.  

     
    In February 2006, an officer of the Korean Railway Workers’ Union known only as Kim (a 38-year-old male) filed a complaint with the Commission, contending that “KORAIL committed gender-based employment discrimination by allowing only females to serve as attendants in charge of customer service and by commissioning the employment of female KTX attendants to an external organization while hiring other train crew directly only to subject those female attendants to unfair discrimination in terms of employment conditions, including wages and bonuses.” In addition, a female officer of the KTX Crew Department of the Korean Railway Workers’ Union known only as Min (female) submitted an additional complaint in March 2006 with respect to the discriminative employment of female KTX attendants.  
      
    Against this backdrop, the Commission conducted an investigation of KORAIL and Korvans. According to its findings, female KTX attendants provided the majority of basic services on the express train. However, the Commission determined that gender was not part of the bona fide occupational qualifications (requisite qualifications or requirements to perform certain duties). This decision is applicable even under the assumption that female attendants were in charge of customer service only. Notwithstanding that there existed no rationale justifying the separate hiring of women in that capacity under any circumstances, KORAIL separately employed female attendants dedicated to customer service in the apparent belief that such service was a simple and repetitive duty with a low level of added value. The Commission deemed it to be an act of discrimination based on gender-discriminative prejudice.

     
    Regarding the employment of female KTX attendants, the Commission also found that female employees were subject to unfavorable treatment as compared to ordinary train crew in terms of wages, bonuses, incentives and breaks. In addition, the Commission noted a discriminative employment structure wherein female attendants were hired as contract workers based on the signing of a short-term business consignment agreement and the conclusion of an employment agreement on a yearly basis.

    Accordingly, the Commission recommended that this gender-discriminative employment structure be redressed.  

     

    Disguised Self-employed Workers in Korea and Violation of Their Right to Work  

    Ⅰ. The Concept of Special Employment Workers in Korea  

    Special employment workers are those who have no formal contract of employment with the company, but in actuality they provide their labor or work as a permanent worker, and get paid for their labor from the company. Learning aid teachers, insurance agents, caddy, owners of dangerous vehicle such as cement mixer or dump truck, truck drivers, and drama writer are among the special employment workers. 

    These people work directly under the supervision of the company.  They are hired and work as freelancers despite that they have no special skill economically or professionally, or own or manage special tools or facility to perform their tasks independently. Because their employment status is not the traditional employer-employee relations, they are not recognized as laborers in the eye of the law. Therefore, they are subject to very poor working condition as for the wage and the working hours. Basic labor rights are unthinkable for them and improving working condition by organizing labor union is out of question.

    In the case of workers fall under the job classifications that require special employment, they did not started as freelancers from the very beginning: They started as regular workers and then employer's unilateral decision on corporate restructure forced them to become freelancers. In other words, they still work for their employer, work same hours, perform same task, and gets paid by the same employer, and yet they are not directly employed by the employer: They are freelancers only in the paper. They were laborers one day, and then businessmen the next day. To the employers, not only they can be benefit in reduction of wage and formation of labor union by avoiding the legal responsibility as an employer, but also they can conduct manpower adjustment whenever they want and maximize the profit by inciting competition between employees.  

    Ⅱ. Working Condition According To Job Classifications  

    ○ Truck Drivers

    - Same as ready mixer contract truck drivers, truck drivers were hired as regular workers and worked under direct supervision by a freight company until the end of 80s. The government and the company's active pushing of 'special employment' system to the workers led forced transfer of ownership of trucks to the workers. Currently over 90% of truck drivers in freight forwarding business is working under special employment system in the form of consignment.

    - Because they own the vehicle they are working with, the workers are excluded from benefits of basic labor rights and industrial accident insurance. Moreover, their employment is unstable due to continuous amendment of 'Trucking Transport Business Act.' 

    - On June 6, 2002 truck drivers organized declaring that they were laborers, and organized 'Freight Transport Labor Union 'Transport Union,' and 'Transport Union' headquarters was formed on Oct. 27 same year. 

    - The official name for 'Transport Union' is 'Special Employment Workers Solidarity in Transport.' 

    - Breaking 50 years of silence, truck drivers organized a massive general strike in May, 2003.   

    The government and the union reached an agreement, 'May 15 The Labor-The Government Agreement.' as the result of the general strike.

    - The government agreed to 'work with the labor and the management on guaranteeing the labor rights to special employment workers,' however, the government never kept its promise. Not only the government  is denying the labor rights to special employment workers, it has repressed the workers resulting in tens of arrests.   

    ★ Korean government broke the promise with the labor that it signed on May 15, 2003.  

    The government had promised following. 

    …… The government will consult with the management and the union on guaranteeing labor rights to special employment workers. ……  

    ★ Introduction of  'An order to reinstate back to work'

    - After the May general strike in 2003, the government sought to amend the legislation prohibiting collective action by transport union. 

    - While policy it was working together with the union to establish a policy to improve freight transportation system in Korea, the government was working on a scheme to repress transport union on its back.

    - Several legislations were passed including 'an order to reinstate back to work.' Introduction of permit system and transporter qualification system contains discriminatory clause that give disadvantage to those who have participated in the collective action.     

     

    ★ Problem with 'an order to reinstate back to work'

    - The government is showing double standard toward transport workers. While the government claims that the transport workers are 'not laborers' when the workers ask the government for protection, the government is forcing the workers return back to work when the workers are engaged in collective action.

    - In the case of other countries, for example with U.S. the government has looked into, the transport workers are guaranteed of basic labor rights, and considering the special characteristic of the industry (i.e. the importance of harbor loading and unloading), the right of collective actions is restricted under strict conditions. Therefore, the order to reinstate back to work in Korea is an irrational system that is unheard of in the world. 

    - Even if the truck drivers are not laborers and they are sole proprietors, the freedom of business operation is the basic right of economy in economic order of capitalism. If the government forces business owners to resume their business giving a reasoning that the collective actions is bringing several crisis to the national economy, the business enterprises (Federation of Korean Industries) would probably file a formal complaint against the government claiming that it is unconstitutional. Hence, although the transport workers are not considered laborers and they are sole proprietors, forcing them to resume their work is unconstitutional system infringing upon the freedom to business that is guaranteed in the constitution.      

    ○ Ready Mix Concrete Drivers and Dump Truck Drivers 

    - Established : 2000. 9. 19.

    - Organization

    38 chapters (establishments) and 4 affiliates as of 2005. Major membership is discharged workers, and the membership is 2,000.

    Over 90% of the membership is ready-mix-concrete truck drivers and they are the owner of their truck. The rest 10% are full time ready-mix-concrete truck drivers directly employed by the concrete mix company, and contracted ready-mix-concrete truck drivers.

    The union was established September 19, 2000, and the membership reached 3,000 at the time of the founding conference of the union in Dec. 2000. From January, 2001, the transport union demanded the concrete mix companies to recognize the union and called for collective bargaining. The companies rejected the union's demand by stating that the ready-mix-concrete truck drivers are laborers and therefore the union cannot be recognized as well. Through mediation with Central Labor Committee, the union went on a strike on April 7, 2001.   

    - 7 months of strike was called off in September, 2001 and the workers returned to their work. Through negotiating with ready-mix-concrete companies, the union is being recognized.     

     

    - Wage Negotiation and Collective Bargaining Negotiation and Ratification Status (written agreement included)  


    Year Ratification of Collective Bargaining  and Wage Negotiation Agreements (written agreement included) 
    2002 19 establishments
    2003 20 establishments
    2004 24 establishments
    2005 24 establishments
    Total 87 establishments
     

    When the union requested the ready-mix-concrete companies for collective bargaining righter after the strike in 2001, the companies refused to acknowledge the labor union. But after the year 2002, the companies' attitude toward changed and when the labor union requests for collective bargaining, the companies come to bargaining table without putting up a fight.  

    As it is clearly stated in the table above, many number of ready-mix-concrete companies acknowledge the labor union and ratified the collective agreement and written agreement, acknowledging the union as their real partner since the year 2002.  

    ★ Repression of Ready Mix Concrete Drivers and Dump Truck Drivers   

    < Ready Mix Concrete >                                         

    ● Number of people working : 23,000 persons            

    ● Union Members : 1,200 persons                         


    Classification Repression
    Arrest  9 persons
    Discharge  600 person
    Damage 30 million won
    Property seized 4.6 billion won
    Fine 65 million won
     

                       

    < Dump Truck >

    ● Number of people working : 50,000 persons

    ● Union Members : 12,000 persons 


    Classification Repression
    Arrest 21 persons
    Discharge 30 persons
    Damage Currently none, but expect it to be 1.6 billion won.
    Property seized Currently none.
    Fine 102,850,000 won
     

    ★ Court's opinion and trend on labor rights of ready-mix-concrete truck drivers and trend

    1) On various charges filed against the ready-mix-concrete truck drivers by the ready-mix-concrete companies since 2001, the court ruled following several evidence (real evidence, formal evidence, and social economic evidence) on determining a laborer. 

    2) Not only the court refused to recognize the real employer-employee relationship (real evidence - management, supervision, instruction) between the company and the drivers in the beginning, it used formal evidence (absence of employment contract, business license, excluded from social security benefit) to deny that the drivers were not laborers.

    3) But, after CK Infra Sys won the case of confirming absence of labor status against the ready-mix-concrete drivers at the Supreme Court, the court recognized the real evidence of ready-mix-concrete drivers. But the court was firm and ruled that the reason the real evidence was recognized and it still exists was due to the special characteristic of the ready-mix-concrete industry. The court denied the laborer characteristic of ready-mix-concrete truck drivers under the ground that even though there was existence of real evidence, there was lack of existence of formal evidence.

    4) The Supreme Court ruled that the ready-mix-concrete truck (cement mixer) drivers were not laborers based on 'Labor Standards Act.'

    'the case of confirming absence of labor status against the ready-mix-concrete drivers' filed by CK Infra Sys denied the laborer characteristic of ready-mix-concrete truck (cement mixer) drivers based on the labor characteristics of Labor Standards Act, the Labor Union Act, and Labor Mediation Law.

    Currently, a case in Supreme Court pending for a ruling on labor characteristics based on 'the Labor Union Act and Labor Mediation Law.'  

    ○ Private Tutoring Aid Teachers

    - Composition 

    Approximately 100,000 in total (Council of Education Industry)  / Female : 89.5%, Male : 10.5%

    Age 20 years old to 40 years old 90.7% / College Degree 96.8%

    Average years a tutoring aid teacher works at a company : 2.3 years / Period of average employment in the industry: 6.5 years  

    - Working condition of private tutoring aid teachers

    ⑴ Employment form : Almost all of 38,000 teachers working in this industry are contracted workers. 

    ⑵ Social Security : Excluded from benefit of four major insurances.

    ⑶ Maternity benefit : No prenatal and postnatal holidays, menstrual holiday, maternity leave 

    ⑷ Allowance, bonus, pension : Almost none.   

    - Issues

    ⑴ Instability in employment : Contract in signed every year. If the company denies to sign the contract, the teacher is out of work. Forced dismissal of union official for union activity is serious. 

    ⑵ Hardship in union activities : There is no legal and social protection against unfair labor practice (wrongful discharge included).

    ⑶ Alienated from social safety net : They are excluded from the benefit of social safety net that is applicable to even the small and midium sized enterprises.

    ⑷ No maternity protection : Since close to 90% of the teachers are women, the society should protect women's maternal need. 

    ⑸ No realization of distribution of profit 

    Daegyo - Total sales : 580 billion won, Net profit for the term : 74.9 billion won (estimation in 1999) 

    JEI  - Total sales : 240 billion won, Net profit for the term : 23.4 billion won (estimation in 1999)

    Kongmun Educational Research (Kumon) - Total sales : 41.6 billion won, Net profit for the term : 15.5 billion won 

    Woongjin Dot Com - Total sales : 453.9 billion won, Net profit for the term : 20.1 billion won,

    In spire of astronomical amount in profit, the industry doesn't share its profit with the teachers who play major part in the profit.  

    - Crackdown on the union

    ⑴ Seizure of union membership fee and wage of union officials 

    - For 19 months, 890 million won of wages of 13 union officials and the union membership fee were seized for the compensation for the damage during a strike in July, 2001.   

    ⑵ Unfair dismissal of union official

    - 11 union officials and rank and file members were asked to quit the job because of their involvement in a strike in 2001.

    - Hwang Chang-Hoon, the chairman of No. 3 chapter, was unfairly dismissed from his post on November 22, 2001. He is currently fighting to be reinstated back into the post for 15 months.

    - The prosecution denied the charge of interference of duty filed by the company of Hwang Chang-Hoon.

    - Hwang Chang-Hoon filed for bail-out on unfair labor practice in February, 2002, and the case was dismissed at the Regional Labor Relations Commission and National Labor Relations Commission.

    - Protesting the dismissal at the National Labor Relations Commission, Hwang Chang-Hoon has filed for administrative litigation.   

    ⑶ Non compliance of collective agreement by the company, and the prosecutor's decision to drop the charge on the violation of the labor union law. 

    - The company failed to comply the collective agreement ratified in 2001, and the union filed a formal complaint against the company for the ground of unfair labor practice in 2002. National Labor Bureau saw the merit in the case and set it to the prosecution. The prosecution drop the charge on the ground that 'the Learning aid teachers are not laborers, and the union is a private organization neither controlled nor protected by law, so collective agreement has no legal binding.'  

    ⑷ Unfair labor practice of delaying negotiation

    - The company has continuously failed to come to bargaining table with good merit on wage renegotiation. Renewal on wage renegotiation was submitted at the end of May, 2002, and the wage renegotiation started. But because of the company's delay and refusal on the negotiation, the wage negotiation is still on hold for nine months, well past the wage negotiation validation period which ended as of July 26, 2002.

    - The rank and file members voted and approved on a strike in Nov. 2002. Since it was difficult to expect the company to come back to the bargaining table with good merit, a dispute was notified as of January 6, 2003.  

    ⑸ Interfere with union training and public relations

    - Although the company had agreed to 2 hours a month on union training (It was agreed in collective agreement.), it uses excuses of company regulation that the union has to have a permission from the company when the union ask for cooperation in using a room.  When the union officially asked for a permission, the company repeatedly denied it. The company's repeated interference with union training and worsening of conflict between the union and the company have resulted in withering of union activities. What is worse is that the company sent a request for correction and threatened to fire them for conducting a union training without a notice to the company in advance.

    - Documents with general managers name on interfering with union activity were found three times.  

    ⑹ Interfere with union membership, persuading the members to drop out of the union 

    - Managers are baldly telling new teachers not to join the union. Some managers ask the union members to withdraw their membership with the union using personal ties and demand them to sign the form to withdraw from the union.

    - After the strike was notified, company has become more aggressive in demanding teachers from withdraw from the union.  

    ○ Insurance Sales Agent

    Insurance sales agents have to report to the office everyday. They go to the office by 8:00 A.M. From 8 A.M. to 9 A.M., meeting or training is held, 9:00 A.M. - 10:00 A.M. The manager of the office conduct his or her training and the insurance sales agents have to submit their plan. From 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. the agents are on the road selling insurance. At 5:00 P.M., they have to report back to the office, submit the bills collected, wrap up their work and go home. Sometimes, the general manager of the office double check to see if the agents are doing their work as they said they would. Recently managers are demanding for more achievements. Instability in employment status (demand for bill collecting, demand for increase in staff, wrongful dismissal, inhumane treatment) and demand for more work are the major issues the agents are facing. At the same time it is hard to categorize the working environment as autonomic business when they have to report to work (If they don't fulfill 2/3 a week, they are terminated, If they are absent, they have to face reduction in pay.), they are passed down on the guideline, their work is checked by superiors, and they have to report to the office.

    Reporting to the office in the morning and the evening of insurance sales agents are most strict compared to other special employment workers. If they don't report to the office in the morning, they could face dismissal, or if they are late for reporting time, they could be fined 20,000 won per day.  

    ○ Caddy

    At the time of employment, a caddy has to submit 'resume, certified copy of residency, a certificate of graduation from most recent school attended, and health examination' and age restriction is common. The interview is usually conducted by a field manager or caddy master, but sometimes the president of the country club conducts the interview. When a caddy is hired, she goes through a month of unpaid training. During the morning or evening meeting held once or twice a week, either caddy master or the field manager passes down the guidelines. Sometime, the president of the country club does it himself. Full time employees of the country club or caddy master are used to monitor whether the caddy is doing her job well by patrolling the course personally on a cart or a motorcycle or through wireless radios.  

    Besides rounding, any fault in make-up, clothes, conversation skill, treatment of customers, greeting, and standing posture could cost caddies money. They have no say so on work schedule. Their work hours are set according to the order of their employment. Tardy could cost them 1-3 days of suspension from work. They have to stay in the field at all time during rounding: If they have to go to the restroom, or they have an injury that requires an immediate attention, they have to call the office and get an permission to leave the course. Because of the special characteristic of the occupation, caddies are prohibited in working at another golf course. As a general rule, getting two jobs is unthinkable for caddies because they work long hours (1 rounding takes 8 hours, and two soundings take 13 hours), carry 15 Kg of heavy golf bag with them, walk a lot going up and down the hills carrying the golf bag, and have a waiting time according to their employment order.  

     


    Crackdown on union activities by caddy  
    Gold Course On Site Crackdown Legal Action
    1. Daedunsan Country Club 1999 : Discharge from work, unfair labor practice

    2001 : Wrongful discharge, unfair labor practice, denial of collective bargaining 

    Request to bail-out request wrongful discharge and unfair labor practice 
    2. Yuseong cc 2003 : Discharged 9 caddies, assault (12 stitches on face), attempted to close down the union office. Interfere with duty, formal complaint filed to nullify the collective agreement, request to bail-out on wrongful discharge and unfair labor practice, injunction 
    3. Hanseong cc 2000 : all 208 caddies were discharged, introduced no-caddy system.

    2003 : 5 caddies were discharged, 3 full-time union officials were discharged, organized violence by hired goons and company employees, tried to organize an employee council denying the validity of membership, close down the union office, destroyed union documents.

    Request for bail-out on wrongful discharge, request for bail-out on unfair labor practice, injunction on interference in performing duty, assault, and request to ban from entering and existing the office. 
    4. Daeyeong  cc (Currently Sky Valley) 2000: Discharge caddies, organized violence by hired goons. 

    2003: Denied the union member qualification of caddy, and refused collective bargaining. Assault. 

    Request for bail-out on wrongful discharge and unfair labor practice, abeyance of union members, injunction, property seized 2.9 billion won.
    5. Hanwon cc 2003 : Organized violence by hired goons, hired caddies from service companies, 40 caddies were discharged in group, continuously discharging caddies, denied the union representation. Only recognize the employee council. Request for bail-out on wrongful discharge and unfair labor practice, interfere with business and duty, injunction, property seized 900 million won, assault
    6 Namyeoju cc 2002: Discharge, suspension, reduced pay, close down the business, organized violence by hired goons,  injure some in secretly, personal attack, refuse collective bargaining on the ground that the caddies are not qualify to be in the union. Request for bail-out on wrongful discharge and unfair labor practice, interfere with business and duty, defamation of character, housebreaking at night, violence. 
    7. Iksan cc 2003 : Organized violence by hired goons.  2004 : Discharge, breach of collective agreement.

    2005: Threatened to introduce caddy option system during the strike. Refused contract renegotiation on the ground that the caddies are not qualify to be in the union, notified the union of termination of collective agreement.

    Request for bail-out on wrongful discharge and unfair labor practice, assault, interfere with business and duty, provisional attachment (created virtual bond and seized.
    8. Silk River cc 2004 : Pushed to bringing caddies from service companies partially. Discharge. Request for bail-out on wrongful discharge
     
     

    Ⅲ. Oppression on Unions organized by Special Employment Workers in Korea  (as of June 30, 2006)  

    For the first six months of year 2006, 28 workers of special employment were arrested and are in jail. Compensation for damages the companies demanded from the union is in the total of 800 million won.  

    ★ Dump Truck Department in Transport Union (Total 16 arrested)

    - As of April 6, 14 members were arrested in relating to the general strike on April 6, and so far total of 16 union members have been arrested this year. 

    - 140 union members are booked without physical detention or have been subpoenaed for questioning.

    - Getting arrest poses problem with the unionists who live on daily earnings, but recently the court is ordering community services and the dump truck drivers face in severe difficulties in life even after they are released on probation.  


    Chapters Number Arrested The Date of Arrest Comment
    Gwangju Jeonnam Chapter 5 Warrant for arrest issued on April 8 Released on April 20 two weeks after the arrest after the review of legality of the confinement.
    Gyeongnam Chapter 5 Warrant for arrest issued to 4 unionists on April 14.

    Warrant for arrest issued to 1 unionist on April 26.

     
    Jeonbuk Chapter Warrant for arrest issued to one unionist on April 14.

    Warrant for arrest issued to 2 unionists on April 20.

    Warrant for arrest issued to 1 unionist on April 28.

    The unionist who's arrest warrant was issued on April 28, was the one who tried to immolate himself in front of the City Hall in Jeonju.
    Busan Chapter 1 Arrest warrant sought on April 9.  
    Main Office 1 Arrested on June 11. Department head of Organizing in Dump Truck Department was taken to the police and was arrested.
     

    ★ Transport Union (Total arrested 14, 3 unionists are wanted by police)

    - Four were arrested in a fight against Samsung Capital (Samsung Electronics) in Gwangju, arrest warrants were issued on 10 union members.

    - Four union members were arrested and arrest warrants were issued to ten union members from on going struggle at Baskin Robbins, Asia Cement, Dusan Tech Pack.  

    - On all four struggles, union members are staging high rise protest, and two union members are arrested for high-rise protest and arrest warrants were issued on two unionists.  


    Struggle Arrest Warrant Date of Arrest Note
    Samsung Electronics in Gwangju 4 arrests 2 arrests on March 15

    2 arrests on March 28

    10 arrest warrants were issued on the night of March 28.

    The union members who were arrested on March 28 were the people who were all from high-rise protestors.

    With start of the general strike on March 28, arrest warrants were issued to 10 transport union officials.

    Baskin Robbins 6 arrests,

    3 arrest warrants

    arrest warrants were issued to 2 unionists at the end of March.

    5 arrests and 2 arrest warrants were issued on May 6

    The head of BR chapter who was at the high-rise was arrested. 
    Asia Cement 3 arrests,

    4 arrest warrants  

    April 24 15 unionists were taken to police, arrest warrants were sought for 4 union members, and 3 were arrested on April 22. 

    one member whose arrest warrant was sought was high-rise protestor.

    Arrest warrants for 5~6 unionists are possible.

    Daejeon Hanbatbunhoi 1 arrest   Arrest warrants were sought on four union members for June strike. Local president was arrested.
     

    ★ Learning aid union  (Seo Hoon-Bae, the chairman, was arrested: 1 arrest)

    -  While he was staging 112th day of sit-in at in front of the headquarters of Daegyo for unfair dismissal of Choi Geun-Han, the head of Daegyo branch, on May 3, Seo Hoon-Bae received a call from police to stop by at the police station for questioning.

    - At 2:00 P.M. Seo Hoon-Bae went to police for a questioning. All of sudden, the police told him that there would be a review on the legality of his detention. At 8:00 P.M. the court issued an arrest warrant, and he was arrested.    

    - The arrest of Mr. Seo is unreasonable because he has been cooperating with police's questioning on the company's formal complaint, and he was working as a teacher around the sit-in, and the sit-in didn't pose any physical threats.    

    ★ Provisional attachment for damages on the union organized by special employment workers in 2006.                                                          

    <as of June 30, 2006>


    Sites  Provisional Attachment for Damages
    Construction Union Freight union (Ready-Mix-Concrete) 74 million won
    Transport Union BR Branch 325,321,680 won
    Asia Cement Branch 125,000,000 won
    Learning Aid Union Nunnope Daekyo 300 million won
    Total 824,321,680 won
     
     

    Ⅳ. Discussion on Special Employment Workers by Korean Government   

    □ Economic policy mediation meeting “Scheme on extra ordinary workers”

    - 2000. 10. 5 - Korean government announced “Scheme on extra ordinary workers” that was part of discussion at the economic policy mediation meeting. 

    - Special employment workers should be considered “semi-laborer”,  their right of organization should be acknowledged, and plan should be devised on application of limiting dismissal and applying industrial accident insurance. 

    - No progressing reported due to difference of an opinion between ministries within the government.   

    □ Tripartite Commission of the Labor, the Management, and the Government, Irregular Ad Hoc Committee

    - 2002. 5. 6 First Agreement : Recognized that the special employment workers need benefits. First agreement was reached on extra ordinary statistics, labor supervision, and social security.

    - After the first agreement, discussion was held not on labor rights, but on benefit on economic laws. Discussion on 4 categories was held (protection plan according to economic law, whether the workers have the right from social security point of view, whether the workers should be recognized as laborers from the Labor Union Act point of view, whether some provisions can be applied according to the individual labor related act)

    - 2003. 5. 23 Public welfare committee member of Irregular Ad Hoc Committee : Enactment of 'Legislation on organizing effort of similar laborers. '  By introducing the term ‘similar laborers’ that is much retreated than the term ‘semi laborers’ of 2000, the legislation is to take away labor rights in reality by giving the workers right to organization, right to collective bargaining, and right to ratify an agreement, but, 'authority mediation' is possible for the dispute mediation.  

    - 2005. 9. 5  After two years and six months of debate in irregular ad hoc committee of the tripartite commission ‘Opinion of Special committee for public welfare on workers of special forms of work employment’ was submitted. : Apply special category on some of special employment laborers, so they can benefit from labor rights and most of the special employment laborers are excluded from the benefit of the labor law.  


    The protection plan of special employment workers that started inside the government or at the tripartite commission, began deteriorating as time passed and as the debate went on. Even on the item such as application of industrial accident insurance, it was agreed six years earlier, at the beginning of the argument. But, for six years, it was repeatedly on for discussion, but it was never realized. On 'Guaranteeing of basic labor rights', which is the most important for the laborers, the government is initiating to pass a legislation on taking away the labor rights from the laborers.

     

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