A strange pro-union government

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A strange pro-union government

 The nationwide courier union aligned with the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) has been occupying the CJ Logistics headquarters building for nearly a week. Around 200 union members raided the building on Feb. 10 on their 45th day of general strike. The company requested for law enforcement from the authorities, complaining of “violence and illegality unthinkable in a law-abiding country.”

The strike was triggered by the death of a courier worker who died of overwork. The management and union have failed to narrow their differences over sharing the profit from a hike in delivery rates. The union has been demanding the company share its additional annual profit of 250 billion to 350 billion won ($292 million) from the rate hike with delivery workers. The company finds the estimate groundless.

The nationwide union has been demanding a direct negotiation with CJ Logistics, the No. 1 domestic shipping company. But the company refused negotiations because delivery workers are categorized as “special employers” who are contracted by delivery agencies. The National Labor Relations Commission in June ordered CJ Logistics to negotiate with the union. But the company has filed for a court stay for the administrative order. The union has invaded the company headquarters amid a lengthy strike while a court decision is yet to be made.

The union claims that the company has not kept to its promise of a social agreement on banning overwork. But the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has found the company has been obliging with the terms of the social consensus.

The logistics industry involves multiple parties. There are fishermen, farmers and vendors as well as consumers. All of them had been pained by the delay in deliveries during the Lunar New Year’s peak season. The livelihoods of non-union delivery workers must also be considered.

Non-unionized delivery workers are pleading for normalization of work after their work has been reduced due to a lengthy strike by unionized couriers. The union cannot be above the Constitution which stipulates that all people have the right to work. In a letter to the JoongAng Ilbo, a courier worker not aligned to the union criticized authorities for condoning the illegal strike by the courier union.

CJ Group and Korea Employers Federation Chair Sohn Kyung-shik accused the Moon Jae-in government of being too biased toward unions. After passing the three labor acts in respect to the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention, the government has mostly reflected union demands while dismissing demands from the corporate sector. The union’s occupancy of the company headquarters could not have been thinkable if not for such biased tolerance toward the union.
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