Friday, April 04, 2008

same old same old

Well, after yesterday's surprising post, it's back to good old fashioned divisive, conflict generating policies:

New law revision could weaken unions’ right to strike

Despite objections from labor community, Justice Ministry attempts to limit voting on strikes, the Ministry of Justice is pushing ahead with a revision of laws to prevent trade unions from voting to go on strike until after a breakdown in labor-management negotiations occurs. The labor community, however, objects to the move, saying that the new law will limit the constitutional right to strike and disrupt voluntary labor-management negotiations.

The ministry announced on April 3, that it is considering a proposal to the Labor Ministry that would revise the related laws on the timing of when unions go on strike. Under the new law, unions would not be allowed to vote to strike until after labor-management negotiations break down completely. The existing laws state that walkouts should be decided by a majority vote within a union, but there is no mention about when the vote is to be conducted.

Lee Geum-ro, an official of the Justice Ministry, said, “In many cases, trade unions vote on a strike to pressure a company before collective bargaining begins. The ministry will survey cases from other countries and then propose that the Labor Ministry revise the related laws.” The ministry has begun reviewing all of the labor laws, according to the official.

In response, the labor community urged the government to discontinue the plan, saying that the new laws could infringe upon the Constitution and worsen labor-management conflicts.

Gwon Du-seop, a lawyer with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, one of South Korea’s umbrella labor organizations, said that the issue of putting restrictions on the timing of when a vote to strike should take place was briefly discussed when a road map for labor-management relations was under review in September 2006, but the Tripartite Commission did not adopt it because it would severely limit laborers’ right to strike. “I don’t understand why the Justice Ministry is raising the same issue again,” added Gwon.

Woo Moon-sook, the spokeswoman of the KCTU, said, “In reality, employers tend to avoid or conduct unbalanced negotiations, even if labor unions stage walkouts in situations such as what happened with E-Land or Koscom. If the right to strike, which is a laborer’s last resort, is restricted, the basic rights of laborers will inevitably be violated.”

Korea’s other, major umbrella labor union, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, said, “Even if laborers decide to stage a strike, in most cases, they cancel the strike after negotiating with the management. If they can vote only after negotiations have failed, conflicts may be aggravated because the eleventh-hour dialogue between labor and management has been blocked.”

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