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South Korea: Opinions remain divided on ratification of ILO conventions

South Korea joined the International Labour Organization (ILO) in December 1991 and became the 152nd member country. So far, it has ratified 29 of its 189 conventions and is yet to adopt the conventions on freedom of association, protection of the rights to organize, abolition of forced labour and the right to collective bargaining. Opinions remain divided among labour groups, employers and the business community. The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions, one of the largest labour groups, said ratifying key ILO conventions to improve the working environment is the most adequate choice, while the business community argued that strengthening the right to assemble would break the labour-management balance and pushed for conditional ratification of the ILO conventions.

Lee Sang-heon, the director of the International Labor Organization’s employment policy department stressed that core ILO conventions are minimal universal rights of labourers and should not be subject to negotiation or conditions.

The Moon administration has made it clear that it is working to pass three of the four pending ILO conventions at the next regular National Assembly session in September.


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