Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) Abolish the retrogressive ‘labour market reform’!
Striking South Korean workers demand the!
Abolish the retrogressive ‘labour market reform’!
Stop the Public Pension Cuts! Improve National Pension System!
KWR10,000 (per hour) for Minimum Wage!
Fundamental Labour Rights for All!
The national congress of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) resolved to call a general strike against the government’s comprehensive policy package to attack working and living conditions for all workers. I a nation wide ballot carried out on March 21~April 8, 84.35% of all voters were in favor of going on a general strike. On April 24, striking workers will have rallies in 20 different cities. On May 1, 100,000 workers will gather in Seoul.
✔ An era of 0% of real wage growth rate?
As the impact of the global economic crisis still remains, the economic outlook of Korea is so negative as the finance minister warns of deflation risk. While Korea ranked top in taxation inequality among OECD countries due to the former government’s policy of ‘more tax from the poor and less tax from the rich’ and the 4th in income inequality, the real wage growth rate has decreased for the last 6 quarters successively. (It was 3.4% in the second quarter of 2003 and 0.08% in the third quarter of 2014.)
The total number of the unemployed is 4,456,000 and the real unemployment rate is 15.8% . The poverty rate of the elderly is 48%, which means 1 out of 2 among those who are 65 years old or more is living in poverty. More than 50% of the whole working population is in precarious situation in terms of employment and they are paid half of average wage and not eligible to the social security.
✔ Wage, employment and social security of all workers are under attack
Recently, social polarization in global scale has been pointed out as a key obstacle for economic growth. Even the major fora and financial institutes such as G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting, Davos Forum, IMF and OECD suggest tacking income inequality as key priority. However, the Park Geun-hye government is taking an opposite direction and all of its policies are focusing on giving privilege to the conglomerates and stimulating real estate market, which would result in institutionalization of restructuring, decrease of wage and expansion of employment insecurity.
Comprehensive Measures for Non-Regular Workers, which is a major part of the ‘labour market reform plan’ and claimed by the government as a solution for various problems with so-called ‘dual structure of labour market, is in fact a comprehensive neoliberal labour policy attacking wage, employment and trade union rights of all workers. Using above mentioned title, the government is laying the blame on the ‘over-protected regular workers’ or ‘vested interests of organized workers’, instead of ‘ ‘inheritance and unequal distribution of wealth by the conglomerates’ for the income & social inequality.
Key points of the government-let ‘Labour Market Reform’
-Relaxation of requirement for ordinary dismissal and introduction of dismissal of underperforming workers
-Flexibilization of wage system: based on job function and performance payment
- Incapacitation of the condition of ‘collective agreement by workers’ required at the time of unfavorable change of rules
-Exclusion of regularly-paid bonus in ordinary wage calculation
-Extension of working hour
-Retrogressive amendment of labor standards act which runs counter to the idea of reduction of working hours
-Extension of limit of fixed term contract period from current two years up to four years
-Expansion of range of jobs where labour dispatch are permitted.
-Legalisation of in-house subcontracting.
✔ Unilateral way to pushes ahead with the government’s plan
In the New year’s adress of 2015, President Park emphasized that “Labour Market Reform is not optional but essential for survival of Korean economy”. She also urged the Special Committee on Structural Reforms of the Labour Market. In the Economic and Social Development Commission (ESCD) to agree on the government’ plan within March.
Without participation by the KCTU, the Special Committee [composed of FKTU, KEF and the government] were convened several times but failed to draw an agreed conclusion. Just a day after the FKTU walked out of the negotiation finding there is no point of compromise, the government announced that it will unilaterally pursue the retrogressive amendment of related labour laws in the interim session of the National Assembly in April.
In addition to this, the Ministry of Employment and Labour declared that it will push with a variety of guidelines for collective bargaining, enforcement decree of the laws, and directives in order to accomplish the plan at every workplace. This shows that the government has no intention to listen to the workers voice from the beginning.
✔ Right to Strike is internationally protected fundamental rights!
In Korea, the right to strike is guaranteed in the Constitution. However, in practice, as the purposes, methods, procedure, and subject are excessively regulated, it is almost impossible for workers to legally strike. Union leaders and members easily face criminal sanction, lawsuit for compensation of damage, and disciplinary measures including dismissal. International support and solidarity has played a key role for Korean workers to exercise their fundamental rights.