Tensions between government employees' union and Lee administration mount
Feeling pressure from MOPAS, local governments are forced to decide punishments for government employees who voted in favor their union joining KCTU
As some local governments push for the punishment of government employee’s union leaders in accordance to demands from the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS), tensions between government employee’s unions and the Lee administration that have arisen in the wake of the unions’ recent decision to join the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) are intensifying.
A personnel committee will convene in Gyeongsangnam-do on Friday to decide whether to punish some 11 civil servants who are members of Korean Government Employee Union’ (KGEU) Gyeongsangnam regional headquarters. The Busan City government also plans to decide whether to punish 16 civil servants, including Kim Seong-nyol, head of the Busan chapter of the Korean Democracy Government Employees ’ Union (KDGEU). Prior to this, Daegu City government on Sept. 9 decided to demote Gwak Gyu-un, the head of the Daegu chapter of KDGEU, and suspended him for three months. These moves are in accordance with demands from the Ministry of Public Administration and Security. On Aug. 3, the ministry demanded city and provincial governments punish 105 civil servant union leaders involved in demonstrations and the release of a newspaper ad that read “We want to be the people’s civil servants, not the administration’s.”
In response, the Busan chapter of the KDGEU held a press conference Thursday at Busan City Hall in which they demanded the punishment be rescinded, and described MOPAS’s demand on the Busan government to punish the unionists an “overreach in authority” and an attempt to shackle the civil servant unions and turn them into tools of the Lee administration. A local civic group also protested the decision, saying the government is taking advantage of the local governments’ low levels of financial independence to demand unjust punishments.
Meanwhile, the Lee administration launched a full-scale investigation on Thursday into improprieties related to the three government employee’s unions’ vote to join the KCTU from Sept. 22 through 23. An official with the Ministry of Public Administration and Security said they had been informed that in Ulsan the unions were giving gifts to members to encourage voting, and that if the investigation reveals illegalities, it plans to punish severely those involved and file complaints with prosecutors. Believing that individuals who have been fired remain active within the government employees’ unions, the Lee administration is also considering a plan that would render void even the current government employees’ unions even if the local governments refuse to withdraw the credentials of such unionists.
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