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Business, labor agree to delay multiple unions

Partial ban on payment to full-time union leaders also gets green light

Dec 05,2009
A leading business group and labor unions have reached common ground on a policy to introduce multiple unions in a single workplace while banning companies from paying wages to full-time union representatives.

The Korea Employers Federation, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Ministry of Labor met yesterday in Yeouido, Seoul and agreed to postpone the implementation of multiple unions at a workplace for two and a half years.

The parties also agreed to adopt a “time-off system” for prohibiting wage payments to full-time union representatives from July 2010.

The principle behind the time-off system is to ban payment to full-time union officials.

However, payment will be allowed for hours the official puts into labor-management-related work including negotiating with management, helping union members solve problems and working with the company to improve industrial safety.

Details about what work will be eligible for payment will be decided early next year after the business group and labor unions conduct a field survey.

The non-payment policy will be enforced on all companies regardless of their size.

The new labor policy will be handed to the Grand National Party later, which will then bring it to the National Assembly for consideration later this month.

Park Jong-nam, a top official of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he was not satisfied that yesterday’s decision did not completely ban wage payments to full-time union leaders, which business communities have been insisting on for a long time.

However, he said negotiations should be appreciated because both sides made sacrifices to reach an agreement in such difficult times.

The labor policy was originally to be enacted on Jan. 1, 2010.

Although the Korea Employers Federation and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions previously agreed on a delay of three years, they disagreed on the payment ban for union representatives.

Companies such as Hyundai Motor, which battles with hard-line unions almost every year, have strongly supported the government move.

After the Korea Employers Federation hinted at delaying enforcement of the labor policy, Hyundai Motor and its main affiliate Kia Motors broke their 30-year relationship with the business advocate citing irreconcilable differences.


By Kim Ki-chan, Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]



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