Unions oppose limits to officials in companies

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Unions oppose limits to officials in companies

In a widening of the rift between the government and organized labor, Korea’s two umbrella labor unions said yesterday they oppose new measures to limit the number of union officials at companies.

“If the committee insists on going ahead with its plan to publish its measures on the ‘time-off’ system in an official gazette, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions will annul its coalition with ruling Grand National Party,” Jang Seok-chun, the head of the FKTU, said in a press conference held at his office in Yeouido, western Seoul, yesterday. The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions also opposes the rules.

The new measures, decided by labor, management and government officials after a marathon negotiation session ending early Saturday morning, will limit the number of full-time union officials at a company to a maximum of 24, depending on the size of the workforce and labor union. If a union has more than the maximum, it will be required to pay the wages of the additional workers.

The FKTU, which maintained good relations with the government, also demanded the resignation of Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee. The union yesterday set up tents in front of the National Assembly to prepare for a sit-in protest.

An official from Hyundai Kia Automotive Group said it will request its unions to downsize the number of full-time union officials. If the unions oppose, the official added, the company will endure strikes.

Hyundai Motor, Korea’s largest employer of union members, currently pays wages to 232 full-time union workers. After July 1, the company will pay only 24.

By Kim Mi-ju, Kim Ki-chan [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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