Full ILO standards are challenged

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Full ILO standards are challenged

Fully ratifying International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions could overly empower unions and disturb the labor relations, businesses warn.

A committee formed by the Presidential Economic, Social and Labor Council recommended last year to allow laid-off workers, the unemployed, firefighters and senior civil servants to join unions in a step toward complying with ILO standards. Representatives of labor and business failed to come to an agreement during the first round of discussions last year and are meeting again for the final round of negotiations Thursday.

The Korea Employers Federation, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Korea Federation of SMEs and the Federation of Middle Market Enterprise of Korea argued a day prior to the meeting that the level of union membership as recommended by labor would give too much power to hard-line unions and make labor relations less flexible and more hostile.

“More businesses could be hurt by labor unions overdoing lawsuits, strikes and sit-ins,” the business group said in a joint statement.

Despite joining the ILO in 1991, Korea deferred certain labor conventions. The Moon Jae-in administration decided to tackle the issue last July.

In the statement, businesses called for allowing job sharing, lengthening agreements from two years to four years and restricting striking workers from occupying company offices.

Labor has continuously rejected the proposals, contending that the demands are against the spirit of the ILO and labor rights. If business and labor representatives fail to strike a deal, the matter will be passed to the National Assembly. Although failing to ratify ILO provisions would not result in penalties, the Korean government worries that a delayed ratification could frustrate free trade talks between Korea and the European Union.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]
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