President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Korean Confederation of Trade Unions President Kim Myung-hwan in advance of their discussion at the Blue House on Jan. 19. (provided by Blue House)
The announcement came following a meeting between labor executives and President MoonAfter the new executives of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, they announced their intention to participate in tripartite negotiations among labor, management and the government. This greatly increased the likelihood of bringing both of South Korea’s national trade union centers back into social dialogue for the first time in 19 years. The KCTU withdrew from South Korea’s Tripartite Commission in 1999 to protest the government’s introduction of the dispatch worker system and arbitrary dismissals of workers, and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) also withdrew in Jan. 2016 in opposition to the government’s unilateral attempt to push through labor reform following a grand bargain among labor, management and the government on Sept. 15, 2015, during the presidency of Park Geun-hye. Attention is focusing on what the new body for social dialogue advocated by Moon and supported by both labor and management will look like, as well as what matters will be on its agenda. The KCTU made the announcement in a press release put out after President Kim Myeong-hwan and other KCTU executives met with Moon at the Blue House on the afternoon of Jan. 19. “Creating a society that respect workers requires a major upgrade in the basic rights of labor and the right to organize labor unions. That upgrade will require dialogue and negotiations of various kinds, including social dialogue, bargaining within each industry and regular deliberations about labor policy. We agreed to delay the tripartite meeting scheduled for Jan. 24 to enable both national labor union centers to participate, and we also agreed to make that decision through detailed deliberations in the future,” the KCTU said in its press release. “Now that the KCTU has announced its willingness to participate, we will be able to reschedule the meeting with the approval of the other parties,” said a spokesperson for the Tripartite Commission. As a consequence, talks to create a new social dialogue body are likely to begin when representatives from labor, management and government meet at the beginning of next month, when the KCTU makes it final decision about its participation schedule. It has been observed that the current social dialogue body, namely the Tripartite Commission, has never achieved a grand social compromise capable of satisfying all three parties (labor, management and the government) since it was launched in 1998. Labor advocates have pilloried the commission for demanding that workers made unilateral sacrifices while carrying water for government policy.
President Moon Jae-in speaks with Korean Confederation of Trade Unions President Kim Myung-hwan at the Blue House on Jan. 19. (provided by Blue House)
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