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Business, labor don’t agree on ILO conventions

Apr 16,2019
A dialogue body for management and labor has failed to reach terms to ratify key international labor conventions, leaving the National Assembly and the government mulling over adopting the accords without an agreement.

Public-interest members of the reform committee under the Presidential Economic, Social & Labor Council announced Monday a final resolution for the conditions to ratify four fundamental International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. They did not include a settled understanding from the committee’s business and labor representatives.

In its resolution, public-interest members suggested lengthening agreements between labor unions and companies from the current two years to three years and restricting individuals from occupying businesses during strikes. It also recommended continuing to ban hiring substitute workers during walkouts.

Lawmakers and government officials will have to proceed in ratifying the conventions, such as making legal amendments based on the resolution.

The reform committee was established in July last year as part of the current administration’s efforts to fully ratify ILO conventions.

Despite joining the ILO in 1991, Korea has deferred four of the organization’s eight fundamental labor conventions, such as the freedom of association. The decision comes amid increasing pressure from the European Union (EU) to adopt the labor standards as part of its free trade agreement. While the EU has not set a deadline, it has said that it could refer to the World Trade Organization or an expert panel to resolve the issue.

“We and the ILO are concerned that the conventions are not ratified and that the laws are not in compliance,” said European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom last week. “We need to see some quick progress.”

Business and labor both expressed disappointment on Monday.

“[The resolution] did not include allowing substitute workers during walkouts requested by businesses so it does not objectively nor fully reflect the position of business and labor,” said the Federation of Korean Industries, a business lobby, in a statement.

“Lengthening the agreement periods between unions and companies could lead to baseless restructuring and changes to labor conditions,” said the KCTU in a statement.


BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]