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New Labor Union to Enter Hyundai

Posted November. 17, 2006 06:55,   


The New Right New Confederation of Labor Unions will establish its affiliated organization, the “Confederation of New Trade Unions(CNTU),” with Hyundai Motors, the biggest labor union in Korea, in December. The confederation was founded in September, advocating new labor movements with the goal of “creating decent jobs.”

All eyes are on whether the CNTU will follow in the footsteps of the existing Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. As the CNTU decided to establish its base in Hyundai Motors, which has a hard-line union, changes one way or another in the labor sector seem inevitable.

In particular, the trade union of Hyundai Motors is scheduled to hold an election to select its leadership early next year, so what impact the CNTU will have on the outcome of the election is drawing attention.

Hyundai’s labor union, which belongs to the KCTU, has staged walkouts every year for the past two decades or so except in 1994 since its foundation in 1987. The union went on a 21-day-long strike this year in wage negotiations. It is a core organization of the KCTU with a membership of more than 43,000.

About 50 members of the Hyundai Motors labor union held the 2nd Workshop of Hyundai Motors Confederation of New Trade Unions on the afternoon of November 15 in Ulsan, when its members were on a four-hour-long strike at the order of the KCTU. In the workshop, they decided to officially launch the CNTU with the Hyundai Motors trade union as its member.

In a document titled “Our Position” under the name of “Hyundai Motors CNTU,” the 50 or so members of the union said, “General Strikes are wasteful struggles that aggravate conflicts between the labor and the management and harm the company. We declare that we will pursue future-oriented labor movements by working for practical employment stability and improved quality of life for laborers.”

They also strongly condemned the KCTU, saying, “The KCTU ordered us to go on a general strike. However, stopping production and staging political strikes demanding a roadmap to improved labor-management relations and suspension of Korea-U.S. FTA negotiations are a far cry from the expectations of members of the labor union.”

It is almost unprecedented that members of the Hyundai Motors labor union publicly criticized its executive body.

Seo Joong-seok, the first Vice President of the Hyundai Motors Labor Union in 1987, was elected the head of the company’s CNTU.

“Since our first workshop on October 12, we have been working to establish this organization,” said Seo. “Until now, around 70 members of the union joined the CNTU, and more than 1,000 have announced their intention to join us.”

He added, “The CNTU is not a group of a certain ideology. It covers union members from different backgrounds, and some in the former core executive body are about to officially announce their plan to join us.”

About the launch of the CNTU, the labor union of Hyundai Motors said, “We do not have an official stance on the matter.”