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Labor Union Membership Falls to 10%

Posted December. 05, 2005 07:09,   


The Korean labor union membership rate has fallen to about 10 percent, the lowest rate ever, and faces the risk of falling to single digits.

According to the Ministry of Labor and the Korea Labor Institute, the membership rate for labor unions, taken last year, is 10.6 percent, the lowest ever since the survey was first conducted in 1977, when membership amounted to 25.4 percent.

The labor union membership rate is the percentage of wage workers, excluding public workers who are not permitted to join unions, that are members of a union. The membership rate has been declining annually, except in 1989 when it reached 19.8 percent due to the wave of democratization movements after 1987.

The Ministry of Labor considered the reasons behind the fall to be the increase of non-regular workers that can’t join unions, younger generation workers having a lesser favorable view of unions, and the surge of service industry workers.

The number of unions and its members is also dropping. As of last year, there were 6,017 unions, 240 less, or a 3.8 percent decrease from the year before, and the number of its members was reduced to 1,537,000, a 0.8 percent drop consisting of 13,106 members.

As for big unions, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions had 3,714 unions and 780,183 members under its organization, which is 237 unions and 51,477 members fewer than the previous year.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions had 1,256 unions and 668,136 members, a drop of 76 unions and 5,744 members.

Unions of the large corporations composed 61.7 percent and 50.8 percent of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions total unions and members, respectively, as well as 20.9 percent of the unions and 43.5 percent of members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.

Unions that did not belong to bigger union federations amounted to 1,047, with 88,524 members.

Keuk-In Bae bae2150@donga.com