Unions, government re-establish collective bargaining

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Unions, government re-establish collective bargaining

Collective bargaining between the government and civil servants’ unions resumed for the first time in 10 years on Monday in a symbolic move that underlined the labor-friendly policies of President Moon Jae-in.

The government launched collective bargaining with unionized civil servants for the first time in 2006, when late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun was in office. The negotiations were suspended in 2008 after Roh’s conservative successor, Lee Myung-bak, came into office.

On Monday, the negotiations reopened with a meeting between government representatives, including Personnel Management Minister Kim Pan-suk, and their labor counterparts, who represented a total of 74 unions of government employees, including the Confederation of Korean Government Employees’ Unions. The 74 unions have a combined membership of about 230,000 government employees.

Government representatives consisted of vice minister-level officials from the Finance Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Health Ministry, the Gender Equality Ministry and the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission. The resumption of negotiations is seen as underscoring Moon’s labor-friendly stance. Since taking office last year, the Moon administration has introduced a series of pro-labor policies, such as a sharp increase in the minimum wage.

“I express deep regret that negotiations between the government and civil servants’ unions have not functioned so far. These negotiations will be concluded successfully if we make earnest efforts to acknowledge our differences and narrow them down,” Kim said during the meeting.

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