The worst possible crisis was avoided in talks among leaders from unions, management and the government as they narrowed differences on some controversial labor policies on Saturday.
At the 10th tripartite meeting on the government’s new labor reform plan that is to go into effect this year, the three agreed to put off for five years a ban on the provision of salaries to full-time unionists and allow multiple unions at the same company. Although the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), one of the nation’s two flagship labor unions, and the government have not yet agreed on putting off the two policies, officials from the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), the Korea Employers Federation and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry have agreed on the delay.
They also agreed to abolish the government’s intervention in strikes at workplaces.
The business sector accepted the labor circle’s proposal to abolish the intervention on the condition that emergency personnel can be allowed to replace striking workers and enable minimum operations.
Since KCTU is against such conditions, the final conclusion on the issue has not been reached yet. However, considering that management has been firm in opposing the abolishment of intervention, such a concession is considered a large step forward in the three-way negotiations.
The Ministry of Labor Affairs said that if the three parties reach agreement on more clauses in the process, it could delay its date for the pre-announcement of legislation on labor reform bill for up to one day to reflect the changes. The original date for pre-announcement is Sept. 7.
``We cannot afford a longer delay for the pre-announcement as the reform bill has to be legislated within this year. The issues on which agreement is not reached can be discussed further at the National Assembly,’’ said a spokesman of the Ministry of Labor Affairs.
Meanwhile, the appearance of the FKTU chairman, Lee Yong-deuk, at the tripartite meeting came as a surprise since he previously said that he would boycott the meeting.
Announcing the FKTU withdrawal from the International Labor Organization’s Asia-Pacific Meeting in Pusan to protest the labor minister’s revelation of details regarding some controversial clauses of the labor reform bill last Wednesday, he said the umbrella union would also boycott this meeting.
As for the sudden change in their position, FKTU officials said they wanted to maintain their key principles for negotiations and reach last-minute agreements on some issues with management.