ILO makes recommendations on irregular workers in South Korea

03.07.2008

ILO Committee on Freedom of Association calls on Korean government to investigate and remedy alleged anti-union acts against falsely subcontracted workers and requests that obstruction of business laws are brought into line with freedom of association principles.

SOUTH KOREA: The International Metalworkers' Federation joined the Korean Metal Workers' Union and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions at a press conference in Seoul today, July 3, welcoming the findings of the International Labour Organization on the complaint against the Korean government.

The ILO has called on the Korean government to investigate and remedy alleged anti-union acts against falsely subcontracted workers at Hyundai Motors, Hynix/Magnachip, Kiryung Electronics and KM&I and to take all necessary measures to promote collective bargaining for subcontracted workers.

Significantly, the ILO requests that the Korean government "take all necessary measures without delay" to bring "obstruction of business" laws into line with freedom of association principles.

The Committee states that, "violence, criminal sanctions or disproportionately heavy pecuniary penalties are not conducive to a constructive industrial relations climate, especially in the absence of affirmative measures to promote dialogue and collective bargaining."

During the press conference IMF called on the Korean government to restore the rights of the Kiryung women workers who are over 20 days into a collective hunger strike in protest of their unfair dismissal.

"The ILO clearly states that "The non-renewal of a contract for anti-union reasons constitutes a prejudicial act within the meaning of Article 1 of Convention No. 98." I hope that the government heeds this strongly worded recommendation to reinstate the workers," said IMF General Secretary Marcello Malentacchi.

These and other recommendations to the Korean government are included in an interim report issued by the Committee on Freedom of Association in June 2008 in response to the complaint lodged by KMWU, the KCTU and the IMF.

The unions made the complaint against the Korean government for neglecting to protect and facilitating violation of subcontracted workers' rights to freedom of association, collective bargaining and collective action, in breach of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

The complaint, case number 2602, details a series of violations dating from 2004 to 2006 at Hyundai Motors plants in Ulsan, Asan and Jeonju and at Hynix/Magnachip, Kiryung Electronics and KM&I.

For a copy of the Interim Report and recommendations from the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association click on this link.

For a summary of the details of the complaint, click here.