Labor illegality

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Labor illegality

It has been revealed that many of the collective agreements that unionized public employees have with their agencies are full of illegal irregularities. The Ministry of Labor has examined collective agreements signed with 112 public agencies since 2006 and found as much as 79.5 percent of those contracts violated laws related to labor or civil workers.

The shape of the violations varied as well. Although public workers can work as full-time union workers only if they take a non-paid leave of absence, many public workers’ unions have bargained in their collective agreements for them to be paid.

Some unions have installed their own people to sit on evaluation committees for promotions and interfere with personnel affairs. Other unions have even wangled concessions so when laws regarding welfare and benefits for public employees are to be revised, the labor unions must be consulted beforehand.

Public employees must take the lead in abiding by the law. Unfortunately, they have violated the law in the name of the labor movement. What’s more serious is that the heads of their workplaces have catered to the unions by, for instance, providing financial support for the unions, instead of ending illegality. Naturally this erodes discipline. As corruption is widespread in public workers’ groups, it is hard to guarantee that public employees’ unions have not had an influence in personnel affairs and revisions of related laws.

The Ministry of Labor reportedly plans to ask for corrections through labor committees, but more binding measures are needed. If we do nothing about public workers’ unions violating the law, it will have a negative influence on reforms in labor unions in the private sector. From next year, a ban is planned to prohibit full-time union workers in private companies from being paid.

When the law has been clearly violated, strict measures including criminal punishment must be taken. Even when no law is violated, if some actions go against social standards or norms, the heads of the public agencies must take responsibility to correct them.

The Ministry of Labor has publicized only the types of practices that violate the law and statistics, not actual cases. The ministry must reveal all such cases as the people have the right to know.

It is time to think again about customs in the labor movement that put collective agreements above the law. The Hyundai Motor labor union has even interfered with the company’s facility investment and it was possible because there has been a culture of ignoring the law. The labor authorities must correct unreasonable collective agreements which have taken deep root in the labor sector.
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