The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) became the biggest trade union in Korea as of the end of 2018, outnumbering the Federation of Korea Trade Unions (FKTU), according to the government’s official statistics. It has been 23 years since the KCTU was established in 1995. With the labor force being reorganized around the KCTU, the trade union is likely to make its voice heard in the government’s labor-related policy-making process, including minimum wages and social dialogue.
The KCTU has seen an increase in the number of its members by more than 250,000 since the Moon Jae-in administration took office. The FKTU has added 90,000 new members during the same period but eventually been outnumbered by the KCTU. “Calls to expand basic labor rights have been rising after the candlelight protests,” the KCTU said in a statement on the day. “We feel a heavy responsibility as the No.1 trade union in the country and will move forward to pass the two million mark in membership.”
The labor sector attributes the KCTU’s increasing force to the Moon administration’s removal of non-regular jobs in the public sector. Most of the new members of the KCTU appear to be the non-regular workers, who joined forces while being switched to regular jobs. The Korean Government Employees’ Union, with some 90,000 members, was legalized in March last year, when it removed displaced workers from the union. As a result, it was counted in government’s official statistics. Once the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (KTU), with some 50,000 members, becomes legalized as well, the gap between the KCTU and the FKTU will further widen.
The KCTU is expected to have bigger say in some 70 government commissions, where the labor sector participates as panels, such as the Minimum Wage Council. The KCTU will also be put under heavy pressure to act responsibly as the No.1 labor union in the country. “The KCTU will be under social pressure to ‘think strategically,’ rather than focusing only on strikes,” said Jeong Heung-joon, a researcher at the Korea Labor Institute.
firstname.lastname@example.org · email@example.com