Keeping Choo in check

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Keeping Choo in check

A senior member of the opposition Democratic Party who chairs the legislative committee on environment and labor affairs turned down the latest labor reform compromise struck by corporate executives, labor unions and government parties, citing a lack of broad representation.

DP Representative Choo Mi-ae called instead for new discussions that would include smaller businesses and labor union interest groups.

The government had planned to allow multiple unions at single workplaces and bar companies from extending a regular salary to full-time union activists, starting Jan. 1.

The Korea Employers’ Federation, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Ministry of Labor recently agreed to a moratorium on implementing the wage ban until July next year and the multiple union arrangement until the summer of 2012.

Rep. Choo, however, claimed that the deal fell shy of incorporating broad views of the business and labor sectors and recommended that officials host panel discussions that include the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.

The standing legislative labor committee will review a new proposal agreed upon by the six-party board.

The permanent committee chairperson lays out the agenda for a bill review before sending it for broader approval to the National Assembly congregation.

The recently ironed-out bill will be chucked out if Choo opposes it. In July, Choo also blocked a government-proposed bill on temporary workers. Her record of veto power portends an uphill battle for the government in seeking labor reforms during the current legislative term.

What’s more, her idea of a six-party board goes against legislative procedure.

The legislative body and the government compile opinions before proposing legal amendments. The proposals are then reviewed by the standing committee. The bills afterward go under greater examination via a public hearing and legislative subcommittees before a legislative vote.

Seeking broad social agreement on a still-nascent bill can damage the legislative role. It would not be possible to draft up laws if you always had to get the approval of differing interest groups. Opinions of differing parties should be fully respected. But they must be reflected according to normal procedures under the parliamentary democracy system.

The role of a legislative standing committee chairperson lies in moderating proceedings, not in taking control of the whole process.
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