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Date: Sat, 4 May 1996 07:34:31 -0500
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> print 07332
>>> Item number 7332, dated 96/04/30 00:15:08—ALL
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 00:15:08 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Rich Winkel <rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu>
Organization: PACH
Subject: Korea To Amend Labor Laws

/** labr.global: 198.0 **/
** Topic: Korea To Amend Labor Laws **
** Written 11:27 PM Apr 26, 1996 by labornews in cdp:labr.global **
From: Institute for Global Communications <labornews@igc.apc.org>

President Kim Establishes Panel to Revise Labor Laws; Seeks to Ease Rules, Meet Global Standards

By Chon Shi-yong, Korea Herald 25 April 1996

Heralding a drastic easing of restrictive labor laws, President Kim Young-sam yesterday ordered the establishment of a presidential commission on labor affairs.

One of the primary jobs of the Presidential panel will be to overhaul South Korea’s restrictive labor laws which have often invited international criticism. President Kim gave the order while presiding over a conference of labor, management and government representatives at Chong Wa Dae.

Reading a statement on his vision for new labor-management relations, Kim said that both workers and managements should do away with confrontation and pursue common goods on the basis of mutual participation and cooperation. The President gave a strong indication that his government will accommodate some key demands of labor unions for freer union activities.

Excessively restrictive laws of the past must be readjusted resiliently and flexibly, Kim said. The laws must be rewritten so that they conform to international standards and practices. Regarding the overhauling of restrictive labor laws, Kim did not touch on any specific regulation, but his aides were quick to predict which key labor demands the government would accommodate. They include establishment of more than one union at a work place, lifting the ban on interference by third parties and allowing labor unions to participate in political activities.

The Presidential commission will deal with all these issues, said Park Seh-il, senior presidential secretary for social and welfare affairs. Park gave a particularly strong indication that relevant laws will be amended to permit workers to form more than one union at one work site. The regulation will be revised so that it can match international standards, Park said.

The government hopes that amendment bills to the labor laws will be submitted to the first regular sitting of the 15th National Assembly this fall. Chong Wa Dae’s commitment to overhauling the restrictive laws aroused hopes among the labor groups which have been demanding greater labor freedom. Such an anticipation was reflected by the fact that leaders of some radical labor groups accepted President Kim’s invitation to the Chong Wa Dae conference yesterday.

The trade unions of Hyundai Motor Co. and some other large conglomerates whose leaders went to the Presidential Office belong to an outlawed nationwide labor group. It marked the first time that members of the liberal labor organization, called Minnochong in Korean, have met with the President.

Officials said they expect that the planned overhauling of restrictive labor laws would not only help establish peaceful labor-management relations, but also facilitate the country’s admission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). South Korea plans to join the OECD, a Paris-based club of industrialized democracies, by the end of this year. Both the OECD and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have pressured the Korean government to ease restrictions on labor activities.

It is very difficult for us to change time-old perceptions, cultures, institutions and practices overnight, President Kim said. But we have to accomplish this task without fail if we are to make a leap toward becoming a top-class nation in the 21st century, Kim said.

The President outlined five principles which he said should form the basis of new labor-management relations of the 21st century. The five points are: maximizing common goods, participation and cooperation, self-control and responsibility, emphasis on education and human dignity, and globalization of institutions and attitudes. The new labor-management relations call for both labor and management to form a partnership of coexistence instead of pursuing confrontation, Kim said.

He called upon the management to embrace open management by sharing information with workers and providing workers with a greater role in its decision-making processes. On the government’s part, President Kim emphasized the importance of deregulation. We must refrain from excessive intervention and regulation and encourage labor and management to solve their problems on their own, Kim said.

The government will have to work out reasonable laws and institutions and faithfully discharge its task as a fair executioner of the laws and impartial mediator, he said.