There was an interesting article in the Korea Times yesterday titled "CEO's call for disbanding of National Human Right's Commission." I'll reprint the article below momentarily, but a few comments seem necessary first, however. The NHRC has been trying to get rights of migrants and irregular workers recognized for some time now. Indeed, we've tried to cover some of their proposals on our blog to date, recently with the sit-in in the NHRC office by the MTU, and in the battle over labour flexibilization that the NHRC has weighed in on.
The big five employers groups -- the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Businesses, the Korea International Trade Association and the Korea Employers Federation (KEF) -- were pretty blunt in their message opposing the NHRC's proposals claiming that "[t]he commission’s recommendations only reflect the progressive segment of our society.’’ I guess employer's are mad that their 'retrogressive' views aren't in the document.
Here's the story:
CEOs Call for Disbanding of Human Rights Commission
By Choi Kyong-aeStaff Reporter
Korean business leaders Tuesday united to urge the government to reject what they call a labor-friendly set of recommendations by the National Human Rights Commission.
``The commission’s recommendations only reflect the progressive segment of our society,’’ they said in a joint statement after an emergency meeting at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul.
They called for the replacement of all 11 members of the commission with those who would ``broadly represent the national sentiment.’’
Their collective action came after the commission last week made its final draft for a ``national action plan’’ for the government to minimize the employment of non-regular workers and reduce its right to intervene and settle labor disputes, among other things.
The government will pick and choose from among the recommendations and make its version to the United Nations by June. Although the government’s proposal will have legal binding force, it is expected to set the tone for the future course of the nation’s labor policy.
As a result, the business leaders risked the wrath of the progressive government and came out in force, issuing a point-by-point rebuttal on the commission’s recommendations.
The statement chided the commission for trying to deal with the issue of non-regular workers from an ideological point of view. ``It is an industrial issue and should be treated as one,’’ it said.
Regarding its call for the removal of the government’s direct intervention, they claimed that it should be preserved as tool to protect the general public from harms that result from strikes in the nation’s key industries such as power stations and transportation systems.
``If these recommendations were accepted, it would trigger a great confusion throughout society,’’ it said.
The five business associations signed on the joint statement. They were the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Businesses, the Korea International Trade Association and the Korea Employers Federation (KEF).
``If the government follows the NHRC proposals, the society will have to shoulder a huge economic burden,’’ FKI chairman Kang Shin-ho said. ``The most urgent task for the management is to create jobs through facility investments and try to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor,’’ KEF chairman Lee Su-young said.
Lee said, however, that their statement didn’t target the government or President Roh Moo-hyun.
The commission’s action plan also called on the government to recognize conscientious objectors and allow teachers and public servants to participate in political activities.
The business community took issue with these recommendations, saying, ``These recommendations, if implemented, would shake the national security to its foundation.’’
During its FKI executives meeting last week, CEOs reached consensus that the business community should more aggressively have its voice heard about social issues as well as economic issues.
However, sources say that the business leaders’ bold action had more to do with an effort to gain an upper hand in their wage negotiations that come in spring or push for their agenda to be reflected in the nation’s roadmap on labor affairs to be finalized soon.
Meanwhile, the government said that Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan will host a meeting with senior officials to deal with the business community’s grievances. ``There are elements that need reconsideration in the commission’s recommendation,’’ a government official said.