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KEF axes pro-labor vice chairman

July 04,2018
After weeks of internal conflict, the Korea Employers Federation’s (KEF) Vice Chairman Song Young-jung was ousted from his post Tuesday.

At a general meeting in central Seoul, 96 percent of 233 KEF members, all companies that the lobbying group represents, voted in favor of Song’s sacking only three months after he took office.

This is the first time in the 48-year-old organization’s history that a vice chairman was pushed out by members in the middle of a term.

The agenda was proposed by the KEF, which had been at odds with the vice president over the last two months. It said Song promoted conflict among employees and did things that could harm the reputation of the business federation.

“I deeply apologize for causing concern among our members for internal problems that arose within our executive office,” said KEF Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik at the meeting. “We will do our best to end the chaos as soon as possible and create the grounds for the KEF’s revival.”

Preparations to appoint the next vice president will start next week.

The KEF is a lobbying group that represents businesses mainly on labor issues. Song was accused of being on the unions’ side since he took office in April. Song held posts related to jobs and unions under liberal Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.

In May, during government discussions about recalculations of workers’ basic wages, the KEF puzzled business leaders by taking a stance that aligned with those of labor unions, which it reversed the following day. The move was later reported to have been as a result of Song’s influence.

Even after that, there were clear signs that Song and other KEF staff and members weren’t getting along: Song said the KEF was an “old evil” that needed reform in one media interview last month while KEF staff and members started requesting his voluntary resignation.

Song was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, but he sent a letter Monday to Chairman Sohn asking for explanations, claiming that the lobbying group is run in an “opaque and undemocratic way.”


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]