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Average Monthly Union Wage: 3.27M Won

Posted May. 11, 2006 07:08,   


A survey result shows that the number of “unofficial full-time labor union workers” requesting task exemptions for reasons such as parliamentary member activity or for being a labor leader is nearly half of the total number of official full-time labor union workers.

Unofficial full-time worker refers to those performing labor union activities under tacit permission by the company unlike official full-time workers who have documentary foundation such as collective bargaining for their activities.

Also, only seven percent of labor unions have a financial independent fund prepared for the ban on paying wages to full-time labor union workers starting next year, which could mean that this system has enormous potential to grow into a new labor-management dispute issue.

The Korea Employers Federation announced on May 10 the recent fact-finding survey result conducted on persons in charge of personnel management (executives or higher) from 134 companies regarding full-time labor union workers.

According to the survey, out of the total corporate union workers (450,000), the official number of full-time workers is 1,314 but unofficial full-time workers number 572.

If only the official workers were taken into account, this would be one out of every 342.8 union members, but if the number of unofficial workers that are in fact doing full-time labor union activity are also calculated, the figure rises to one out of every 238.9 union members.

The federation explained that this figure is far more than the number of full-time labor union workers in Japan where one out of 500 to 600 union members are full-time activists, the U.S., with one for every 800 to 1,000, and Europe which has one out of every 1,500.

A full-time labor union activist receives an average of 3.27 million won per month. The federation adds that there are some full-time workers who receive more than 70 million won a year (5.83 million won a month on average) in some large company unions.

In particular, these labor workers can receive neither annual monthly holiday allowance nor extended working wage by law, however, the workers receive more money than other normal workers as they have benefits such as other wages in different forms, allowance for vehicle and oil expenses, and guarantee to return to a high position within the company once discharged from a full-time position.

It has been calculated that wage allotment rate by the company regarding full-time labor workers amounts to 98.3 percent.

Cho Sung-ki from the Employers Federation said, “The survey has enough validity and reliability as it was conducted through field investigation by visiting companies representative of the business in terms of size and industry,” and added, “Most companies agree that a ban on paying wages to full-time union workers should go into effect as planned from next year.”

In regard to this, Policy Director Yoo Jung-yeub from the Federation of Korean Trade Unions said, “The issue of banning wages should be resolved through labor and management discussion and not through law,” and added, “The recent survey result by the Employers Federation is only an operation to form a public opinion favorable towards them in order to have an advantage until next month’s negotiations regarding a labor-management relations road map discussion.”

Chang-Won Kim changkim@donga.com