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National Education Union Losing Members

Posted September. 01, 2008 04:07,   


The Korean Teachers and Educational Workers` Union is suffering from falling membership since the new administration took office.

The Education, Science and Technology Ministry submitted a report to ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Cho Cheon-hyuk saying the union had 74,597 members in April, down 3,097 from September last year. Every April and September, the ministry counts the number of union members in 16 provincial and municipal offices of education.

Members pay 0.8 percent of their monthly salary in union dues.

The number of union members has declined from 87,785 in 2004 to 84,476 in April 2005, 77,694 in April last year and 74,597 in the same month this year.

Last year alone, the union lost 6,388 members after staging massive strikes to protest a teacher evaluation program and performance-based reward system.

The ministry projected that the number of union members could drop to near 60,000 at this pace.

By region, Seoul had the most members with 10,350 in April, followed by 9,774 in Gyeonggi Province; 7,864 in South Gyeongsang Province; 6,903 in South Jeolla Province; 5,195 in North Gyeongsang Province; 4,933 in Busan; 4,097 in North Jeolla Province; 3,938 in Gwangju; 3,753 in Daegu; and 3,444 in Incheon.

The union`s membership reached 93,860 in 2003 in inching toward 100,000. The fall in the ranks is attributed to younger members who disagree with the union leadership`s emphasis on militant struggle.

Another factor is parent criticism of the union, as shown in the results of the election for Seoul school superintendent July 30.

Nonetheless, the union in a national meeting over the weekend decided to stage protests against the government’s education policies, including the revival of nationwide exams and teacher evaluation.

The union renewed its commitment to continue its political struggle in the meeting, saying the decline in membership has slowed down with the spread of anti-Lee administration sentiment.”

On the ministry`s report, a union source said, “There are more union members than the ministry`s estimate because some pay union dues separately. But the exact figures are confidential.”