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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Article
24 June 2019

South Korea: Labour group raises doubts over government's willingness to ratify ILO conventions

Author: Kim Bo-gyung, Korea Herald (South Korea)

“[Newsmaker] Doubts rise over S. Korea’s willingness to ratify ILO conventions”, 23 June 2019

In the midst of a yearlong standoff between the government, labor and management over South Korea’s ratification of fundamental International Labor Organization conventions, trade unions are increasingly questioning the Moon Jae-in administration’s willingness to approve three of the four pending ones…

Members of the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions call for the release of KCTU President Kim Myung-hwan, who was arrested… and to stop the oppression of the labor sector, during a rally near Cheong Wa Dae in central Seoul…

The KCTU is one of the largest labor groups with some 1 million members.

“Working hours are the highest in Korea among OECD member nations. Working hours are three months more (per year) than Germany and a month more than Japan. It also has the highest rate of industrial accidents and the highest ratio of nonregular workers. This is the reality,” said Shin In-su, legal director of the KCTU...

“Ratifying key ILO conventions to improve the working environment to 70 percent to 80 percent of international levels is the most adequate choice for Korea’s reality,” Shin said…

… Under pressure from labor unions to sign the conventions prior to legislative changes, the Moon administration has made it clear that it is working to pass three of the four pending ILO conventions -- No. 87 regarding freedom of association and protection of the right to organize, No. 98 on the right to organize and collective bargaining, and No. 29 about abolition of forced labor -- at the next regular National Assembly session in September…

On the other side of the debate, the Korea Employers Federation, which has been pushing for conditional ratification of the ILO conventions, stuck with its long-held argument that approving the conventions would bestow excessive authority to the already powerful labor unions…

...South Korea vowed to make efforts to ratify the ILO conventions in the 2011 FTA it signed with the EU.

South Korea joined the ILO in December 1991 and became the 152nd member country. So far, it has ratified 29 of its 189 conventions.

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Article
17 June 2019

South Korea: ILO employment policy director says ILO conventions should not be subject to conditions

Author: Kim Bo-gyung, Korea Herald (South Korea)

“ILO conventions are universal rights: ILO Director”, 14 June 2019

Lee Sang-heon, the director of the International Labor Organization’s employment policy department… stressed that core ILO conventions are minimal universal rights of laborers and took a negative stance on allowing substitute laborers in case of a strike. “Key ILO conventions are minimal universal rights that should be granted all workers regardless of where they are. … They should not be subject to negotiation or conditions,” Lee said.

Amid pressure from the EU for South Korea to ratify four of the eight essential ILO conventions, the business community has requested companies be allowed to use substitute workers during strikes as a precondition for passing the conventions. The business community argues that strengthened right to assemble would break the labor-management balance and advantage labor unions.

“The key conventions were made to simplify matters and recognize them as rights. It is not appropriate to do this and that in order to ratify key conventions,” Lee said.

South Korea has yet to adopt ILO conventions on freedom of association, protection of the right to organize, abolition of forced labor and the right to collective bargaining…

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