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Controversy over Early Legalization of Unions for Public Servants

Controversy over Early Legalization of Unions for Public Servants

Posted July. 15, 2002 22:25,   


The Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) has decided to push ahead with legalization of labor unions for public servants in an attempt to keep in check the domination of local governments and the National Assembly by a specific political party ahead of the original schedule, causing a stir in the political sector.

Kim Sung-soon, head of the Local Government Committee of the MDP said in the party`s supreme council meeting on the 15th, "There is mounting voice that the establishment of labor unions for public servants should be legally allowed by 2003 in order to guarantee the basic right to labor of public officials."

He added, "As a specific political party is dominating local governments and local assemblies, it is difficult to expect them to conduct their checking and monitoring function properly. So it is necessary to legalize labor unions for public officials in order to strengthen the `internal control` function among public officials.

But the Grand National Party (GNP) is demanding gradual legalization of the unions, and the government also wants the legislation to take effect from 2006, heralding potential conflict between the labor sector and the government, and the GNP and the MDP.

Lee Gang-doo, chairman of the Policymaking Committee of the GNP said, "Public officials should serve for the sake of the public. Sho if labor-management relationship is not going smooth, it will have great repercussion. Basically the GNP recognizes the need of labor unions for public servants but in order for the system to take root, it should go through medium stages to help establish favorable labor-management relations."

Meanwhile, local public officials have in earnest put pressure on local governors and mayors, who were elected in the June 13 local elections. Local autonomous bodies are urging newly elected governors and mayors to overhaul personal management and institutions. They also professed that they would keep local assemblies in check.

The Association of South Jeolla Province Public officials said in a statement on the 12th, " The newly elected lieutenant governor for state affairs is devoid of economic expertise. The association is urging to replace him with a figure, who excels in negotiations."

The Ulsan chapter of labor unions for public servants said in a statement, and urged to execute transparent spending and eradicate pork-barrelling. △reform personnel management swayed by cronyism, and △admit labor unions for public officials as a partner of local administrations.

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com shjung@donga.com