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Summary of KCTU-KGEU's Alternative Report to UN Human Rights Committee  Summary of UNHRC Report_KCTU-KGEU.doc
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Summary of KCTU-KGEU Report
On Government Employees¡¯ Basic Labour Rights In Korea

 October 23, 2006
Korean Government Employees¡¯ Union

 

The issue of fundamental trade union rights for government employees is a well-known case of government violation of principles on freedom of association and international human rights standards. The ¡°Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials¡¯ Trade Unions¡± came into effect on January 28, 2006. The act, which was supposed to guarantee the trade union rights of government employees, instead severely limits their trade union rights and union activities. According to the special act, a large portion of government employees are not granted the right to associate. And the right to bargain collectively is substantially limited as collective agreements are not legally bound regarding most of matters concerning wage and working conditions of government employees, including matters of appointment, dismissal, status, salary and other remuneration, and work assignment are governed by ¡°laws, bylaws or budget and provisions stipulated by the authority delegated by laws or bylaws¡±,

Indeed the act was unilaterally legislated by the government without any consultations with government employees unions concerned. Many NGOs, trade unions and government employees themselves opposed to such unilateral legislation and submitted their opinions but all of these were totally ignored.

The KCTU and the KGEU raised the issue on government employees¡¯ trade union rights in the tripartite representatives meetings, and an agreement was made in July between the government and the unions to table the agenda on government employees¡¯ union rights during forthcoming negotiations. Since then, however, no meetings on the issue were held. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) had refused to participate in the negotiating table and furthermore, claimed that the tripartite representatives meeting should not even deal with the issue, contradicting the agreement made in July.

Instead, the government squeezed up the repressive waves against the KGEU, the largest trade union in civil service representing around 140,000 government employees. Despite the fact that the ILO adopted recommendations on government employees¡¯ trade union rights in March, 2006, shortly after, the MOGAHA issued the ¡°Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership)¡± - identifying the KGEU as an illegal organization on the basis that it hasn¡¯t submitted notice of establishment pursuant to the new act. The Ministry also indicated that ¡°no dialogue and collective bargaining will be permitted for the KGEU, an illegal organization¡± and instructed all government offices ¡°to force transformation of KGEU locals into a ¡°legal¡± trade union and to issue orders to ¡°voluntarily¡± withdraw membership from the KGEU.¡± The Ministry even instructed local governments to threaten the KGEU members that there will be disciplinary actions for failure to comply with the orders. In order to enforce this ¡°transformation¡±, the directive proposed ¡°individual contacts¡±, ¡°home visits¡±, and ¡°telephone calls¡± to ¡°persuade¡± the KGEU members and their family members.

The repression went further. On August 3, 2006, the MOGAHA issued another directive that specifically requested that all government offices take firm actions against the KGEU in order to ¡°take thorough countermeasures including forceful closing down of the illegal organizations¡¯ offices nation wide. The Ministry asked ¡°to exclude KGEU members from personnel committees, to actively encourage the KGEU members to withdraw memberships, to prohibit union dues check-off system and to block any financial supports like voluntary contribution or donation to the union.¡±

While the ILO Asia Regional Meeting was taking place in Busan, Korea, one of the KGEU local offices was forcefully closed down on August 30. Furthermore, from September 22, 2006, the attacks started throughout the country. Since then almost every working day had seen the violent attacks on the union offices and the arrests of the union members for more than 10 days. The riot police and the specially hired thugs armed with fire extinguishers, fire-fighting dust, hammers, claw hammers, hammer drills and power saws had raided the union offices from dawn till midnight. 125 KGEU local offices have been shut down and in many cases doors and walls of union offices were broken through while doors to union offices were sealed off, in some cases even welded, with iron plates or bars. The KGEU members inside the offices were violently pulled out. More than a hundred of KGEU members and solidarity organizations members were arrested and some of them were seriously injured.

  
 
 

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