Blue House moves to adopt ILO conventionsThe Blue House is pushing for a revision to labor laws that will allow unemployed and laid-off workers to join labor unions.
A cabinet meeting headed by President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday approved three key International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions — general rules about labor unions and the creation and operation of labor unions for public servants and teachers. Under the proposals, unemployed workers will be allowed to join labor unions.
The cabinet meeting is also proposing the removal of a provision that prevents union officials that are also full-time employees of a company from being paid for their union work. Under the new proposal, workers can be paid for time they have taken off work for union functions.
The Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union, outlawed by the Park Geun-hye administration because it had unemployed teachers on its books, is expected to regain its legal status.
High-ranking public officials will also be able to join labor unions. Firefighters and retired civil servants, excluding people who are responsible for decision making, will also be able to be union members.
Korea has been under pressure to ratify the ILO provisions for years. While Korea joined the ILO back in 1991, it deferred ratifying the freedom of association and protection of the right to organization; the right to organize and collectively bargain; and the forced labor conventions.
Korea agreed to pass the ILO conventions in a FTA with the European Union implemented in 2011, but has continuously failed to do so. The Moon administration is now pushing for those changes, including extending the period for collective bargaining to three years from the current two and banning striking workers from occupying part of facilities within a company.
In July 2019, the EU called for a panel of experts to be convened to discuss whether Korea’s apparent lack of efforts to ratify the ILO conventions constitutes a violation of their bilateral free trade deal, but the procedure has been halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Any legal changes to adopt the ILO conventions will require legislative approval.
BY CHO HYUN-SOOK [firstname.lastname@example.org]