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600 labor heads, managers join peace initiative

June 30,2009
Labor union heads and top managers in North Chungcheong yesterday pledged to work together under the same goal, nicknamed “labor-management peace” initiative.

More than 600 labor and management leaders from over 300 small- to medium-sized firms attended, the largest number of labor and management leaders to convene in a single place to affirm a cooperative stance.

An additional 213 manufacturers that couldn’t attend the event, held every year in Cheongju, yesterday pledged to join the movement toward creating a worker- and corporate-friendly environment, according to organizers.

“The event is meaningful because both management and labor unions have voluntarily allied for harmony,” said Chung Jeong-sun, economy and trade director at North Chungcheong provincial government.

He added that he hoped the goodwill would spread across the country.

Present at the meeting were Labor Minister Lee Young-hee and corporate participants headquartered in the province including representatives from Hynix Semiconductor’s Cheongju factory, MagnaChip, Hankook Chinaware, Daesung Celtic and Korea JCC.

The joint statement said that workers will commit to workplace innovations and improve quality and productivity so that both employers and employees can enjoy profits and job stability. On their part, employers promised to pursue transparency and refrain from executing corporate restructuring and using a large number of non-regular workers.

The meeting comes in response to the labor protests among manufacturers that tend to surge each year at the start of the summer.

Labor unions and management find it difficult to narrow differences on wage increases and some other welfare benefits. Standoffs can develop into physical conflicts.

Similar partnerships have been made between management and umbrella labor groups such as the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.

Last year, 237 firms joined the North Chungcheong program, following 20 in 2007. Organizers say 80 percent of the 958 manufacturers in North Chung-cheong have joined the move so far.

According to a poll by the organizer this month, 44, or 29.5 percent, of 149 firms surveyed have already concluded wage negotiations for this year. The nationwide average of firms that have successfully finished wage talks stood at 9 percent.


By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]




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