The TUC is joining unions from across the globe in calling on South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye to address a range of serious and ongoing labour rights concerns when she takes office on 25 February 2013.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O'Grady wrote to South Korea's Ambassador to the UK calling for action to address a worrying list of recent cases of anti-union practices.
21 February 2013
H.E Ambassador Park Suk-hwan
Embassy of the Republic of Korea
Workers' rights in South Korea
On behalf of the TUC, I am joining union leaders from across the globe in calling on President-elect Park Geun-hye to address a range of serious and ongoing labour rights concerns when she takes office on 25 February 2013.
The TUC has long been concerned about your government's failure to respect the Fundamental Rights at Work of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
There are a range of recent such violations, especially in the public sector where the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) has been refused legal recognition as a trade union organisation three times. Since its founding, 137 union members have been dismissed for their trade union activity. The KGEU President and Secretary General were recently dismissed on the ground that they are leaders of an illegal organisation. In its most recent report, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association criticised 'serious acts of extensive interference in the activities of the KGEU' and called on the Government to 'immediately cease all acts of interference,' and 'ultimately to register' the organisation.
Similarly, 165 workers who are members of the Korean Federation of Public Sector and Transportation Workers' Unions (KPTU) were recently dismissed from their jobs in retaliation for legitimate union activities in defence of public services.
Further, there have also been a series of recent industrial disputes over the growing use of precarious work practices which have ended with terrible crack-downs on trade unionists. Disputes at Hanjin, Ssangyong, Hyundai Motors and Yooseong Piston Ring (YPR) have included unlawful dismissals, arrests of union leaders, extreme law suits filed against unions, and union busting practices, especially through the creation of fake company-led unions. The repression has become so bad that five union leaders and activists have taken their lives in response. In many industrial disputes, companies have used a much criticised 'obstruction of business' law to seek arrests and excessive fines for those engaging in strikes. The ILO has repeatedly criticised the government for this law.
The TUC joins the International Trade Union Confederation in calling on your government to:
recognise the KGEU and to reinstate the 137 KGEU members and 165 KPTU members fired for their union activities;
seek the amendment of the 'obstruction of business' law so that union leaders or members are no longer subject to arrest or to enormous fines for activity related to industrial disputes;
urge Hanjin Heavy Industry to withdraw their lawsuit against the union's leader and reinstate the dismissed workers;
work with Parliament to launch an investigation into the Ssangyong mass layoffs as promised and to ensure the reinstatement of dismissed workers;
urge Hyundai, and indeed the manufacturing industry, to respect the Supreme Court's decision with regard to the use of in-house dispatch work; and
take enforcement actions against anti-union retaliation by employers and the establishment of company unions, especially in YPR.
Carrying out the above steps would send a positive signal that the new administration is serious about turning around South Korea's troubling record on respect for fundamental rights at work.
I look forward to your reply.
For more information on South Korea's non-compliance with the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation see: ITUC (21 February 2013) Fundamental Rights at Work in the Republic of Korea
Briefing document (700 words) issued 22 Feb 2013
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-21963-f0.cfm
printed 18 May 2013 at 07:50 hrs by 220.127.116.11