Labor law murky

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Labor law murky

What could have been a disaster in labor-management relations was eventually resolved after the revision for labor regulations was passed at the last minute by the National Assembly’s environment and labor committee last year.

The revision has enabled companies to delay the introduction of multiple unions in a single workplace for one year and six months and postpone implementing a wage ban for full-time labor union representatives for six months.

The time for introducing multiple unions will come slightly earlier than the original plan, but requiring multiple unions in a company to form a single negotiation channel for labor talks with the firm and restricting the time-off system have minimized the chances that the worst-case scenario will play out.

Still, the revised labor law was distorted when it went through the hands of politicians. The revised law was full of additional provisions and conditions based on lawmakers’ political interests. This means that the true purpose of the revision law was tarnished by politically motivated goals. An added provision stating that a company and a labor union can delay implementing the wage ban for unionists for up to two years is a clear example.

Things that weren’t discussed in the labor, business and government meetings were added as additional provisions to the law. To minimize possible confusion over the provision, the Labor Ministry belatedly stepped in and said that if a company and labor union attempt to revise a collective agreement to enable full-time union members to receive wages, any deal made after Jan. 1 won’t be binding. Regardless of the ministry’s position on the revised law, we cannot rule out the possibility of legal disputes in terms of interpreting the law.

Another controversial issue concerns the time-off system.

Grand Nationals extended the definition of the time-off system to include “general union management operations” from the original “certain union activities,” but again changed the definition to “union management operations to lead healthy labor-management ties.” The way that obtuse language was used in the law added complexity to it.

As the revised labor law was passed by the National Assembly, it’s now time for crafting the details for ordinances to implement the law. To minimize confusion and the side effects of the new labor law, it’s important for people involved in these issues to stick to their principles. We must keep in mind that both labor and management should be focused on carrying out the revised law, as that will eventually lead to an amicable settlement on this issue.
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