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3-Way Labor Regulation Deal Reached

Posted September. 12, 2006 06:56,   


The government, businesses and labor unions agreed on delaying the planned introduction of labor regulations by three years to the end of 2009. At first, they planned to suspend payments to labor members, who are full time on union business, and to allow additional unions within corporations next year.

The three parties also decided to stop the government’s forcible labor dispute arbitration in public business operations and to authorize workers-replacement-system during strikes.

The tripartite consultative committee gathered together in Yeouido-dong, Seoul and came to the conclusions through last-minute negotiations as part of the “roadmap for advanced laws and institutions to forge a better labor management relationship.”

The dramatic breakthrough came as the government gave its approval unconditionally to the labor-management agenda in an attempt to prevent a catastrophic situation.

This would help the implementation of the road map on which the parties dragged their feet for the last three years. However, some say the roadmap failed to serve its original purpose as discussions on most of the controversial points were shelved, and the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) are opposing the plan.

The tripartite committee also agreed to make up for the deferred program by discussing measures to minimize confusion that can arise from the additional labor union system. It is also considering the feasibility for unionist workers to cover the wages of their full time committeemen.

The three parties will abolish the government’s right to intervene in labor disputes in public business operations such as hospitals and the railroad corporation. Instead, companies will be allowed to replace workers on strikes with other staff or to prohibit some workers from going on a strike.

The meeting was attended by Labor Minister Lee Sang-soo, Chairman of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions Lee Yong-deuk, tripartite committee chairman Cho Jun-ho, Korea Employers Federation president Lee Soo-young. The KCTU boycotted the talks.

The KCTU expressed its will to protest the agreement, calling it a back-room deal. However, Labor Minister Lee said that the trade union would not vehemently object to it because the plan’s many parts reflected the union’s opinions.