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KCTU Alternative-Report to the UN Human Rights Committee (KGEU Part-text)  UN-HRCommittee-KCTU-Report-Final(submitted).doc
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Government Employees¡¯ Basic Labour Rights In Korea

 

Korean Government Employees¡¯ Union

 

 

I. Problems and Shortcomings of the Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials¡¯ Trade Unions¡±

 

1. Lack of Democracy in the Legislation Process

 

In April 2003, the then Minister Kim Doo-kwan of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) and the then Minister Kwon Ki-hong of the Ministry of Labour, in a meeting with the then president Cha Bong-cheon of the Korean Government Employees¡¯ Union had promised to draft a bill ¡°through a process of sufficient hearing of views, as the substance would be secondary importance¡±. However, in May 2003, the Ministry of Labour announced unilaterally, in total disregard to the earlier promise, to table the draft bill for the Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials¡¯ Trade Union (Public Officials Trade Union Act) with the National Assembly. The tabling was, however, postponed in November following an instruction by President Roh Moo-hyun. However, the Ministry of Labour tabled the bill with the National Assembly in October 2004 without a process of consultation with the government employees in the civil service.

 

At the time, the Council of Representatives of Workplace Associations in the Ministry of Labour, which represented public officials in the Ministry of Labour that was responsible for drafting the bill had issued a statement on August 27, 2004, declaring ¡°the government bill allows trade unions only in name. In terms of substance, it is a product of the deceitful intent not to allow genuine trade unions of public officials. The government bill, in prohibiting the right to collective action, aims to make the trade union powerless. The government bill is one that aims to repress trade unions of public officials.¡±

 

The Korean Government Employees Union opposed the government bill for its failure to reflect the views of the very workers it is supposed to serve, and demanded a fresh start to draft a new bill. On September 19, 2004, at a meeting with the KGEU, held to present the union¡¯s views, the Minister Kim Dae-hwan of the Ministry of Labour declared that ¡°there is no problem at all with the draft bill for Public Officials Trade Unions Act produced by the Ministry of Labour, and there¡¯s no need to talk¡± and left the meeting unilaterally.

 

The Government subsequently tabled the unilaterally drafted bill with the National Assembly and forced through its passage. At the same time, the Government had violently cracked down on the KGEU¡¯s planned vote of all its members on strike against the proposed laws. In the process, some 3,000 public officials who were members of the KGEU were subject to disciplinary action and some 400 members who were leaders of the union were dismissed following the KGEU¡¯s strike. (¡°Disciplinary Measures taken to KGEU members after 2004 strike and current situation.¡± KGEU)

 

2. The Right to Organise

 

The Article 5 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act states ¡°workers are free to establish a trade union or join it¡± leaving the union itself to determine the scope of membership. The subparagraph 4 of the Article 2 disqualifies a union if allow as a member ¡°an employer or other persons who always act in their employer¡¯s interest¡±. The actual scope of this exclusion is set through jurisprudence.

 

The Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials¡¯ Trade Union however denies trade union rights to the following groups of public officials

l        public official of Grade 5 and higher

l        public officials who exercise the right to direct and supervise other public officials or engage in generally managing other public officials¡¯ affairs

l        public officials, such as those performing jobs related to personnel and remuneration, who stand in the position of administrative agencies in relations to a trade union

l        public officials who engage in correction, investigation and other similar jobs

l        public officials whose main jobs, such as mediating and inspecting labor relations, are considered incompatible with their status as union members (Article 6)

 

The MOGAHA, in October 2004, estimated the number of public officials ineligible to be members of a union as follows:

l        public officials of Grade 5 or higher: 37,007 (Grade 5 = 26,198; Grade 4 or higher = 10,809)

l        public officials in correctional service and police: 120,762

l        public officials in supervisory or general management (Grade 6 public officials in municipal governments): 30,156

l        public officials in personnel and remuneration work: 35,000

 

Based on these estimates, the Ministry estimated the total number of public officials eligible to be members of a trade union to be 330,000   360,000. The Ministry of Labour, following the finalisation of the Enforcement Decree in January 2006, found that, as of November 2005, a total of 290,000 public officials out of the total of some 920,000 (excluding soldiers) would be eligible to be members of a trade union. (¡°Enforcement Decree on the Public Officials Trade Union Act Completed¡±. Press Release, January 24, 2006, Ministry of Labor)

 

Police, firefighters, and corrective service public officials are denied the right to form or join a union. Furthermore, public officials who ¡°stand in the position of administrative agencies in relations to a trade union¡±, who amount to some 30,000 are also excluded from trade unions. All public officials of Grade 5 or higher are denied trade union rights. And many public officials of Grade 6 or lower are also excluded from union membership based on the eligibility criteria stipulated in the law or ¡°Enforcement Decree.¡±

 

Given the reality that significant section of public officials of Grade 5 are engaged in administrative work, they cannot be deemed to be ¡°persons always working in the interest of their employer¡±. The National Human Rights Commission, in its 2004 human rights report found that ¡°today, it is quite common that public officials who hold ranks/position of ¡°bu-yisakwan¡± and ¡°samukwan¡± are, in terms of work relations, middle level managers and are not in position of managerial responsibility for lower rank public officials. [¡¦] It is not desirable that eligibility for union members to be restricted by types of public official or excluding public official of Grade 5 or higher in a monolithic manner.¡± In its rulings concerning ¡°discrimination in retirement age according to the rank¡±, the National Human Rights Commission found ¡°in actual central government ministries, Grade 5 public officials are responsible for actual implementation work rather than policy and managerial and supervisory work, and in some ministries Grade 5 and Grade 6 public officials carry out same kind of work requiring deliberation and judgement. [¡¦] In central government ministries, the required period for promotion from Grade 6 to Grade 5 differs according to the actual ministries, as in the Ministry of Justice, it takes 4 years and 5 months, but in the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, it take 12 years and 8 months. This means that it is not possible to make a blanket statement that public officials of Grade 5 or higher always have more experience and knowledge than public officials of Grade 6 or lower.¡±

 

Furthermore, with the introduction and expansion of the team-systems which led to assignment of public officials with middle-level authorisation powers who were mainly responsible for supervisory work to implementation jobs as a part of the effort to enhance work efficiency, considerable portion of public officials of Grade 6 are assigned as team leaders. This had brought about a situation where a majority of Grade 6 public officials come to fit the criteria denying eligibility to be a member of a union, that is, ¡°exercise the right to direct and supervise other public officials¡± or ¡°engage in generally managing other public officials¡¯ affairs¡± (Subparagraph 1, Paragraph 1, Article 6, Public Officials Trade Unions Act). This has undermined the ¡°principle¡± to extend trade union rights to public officials of Grade 6 and lower.

 

Furthermore, the Enforcement Decree of the Public Officials Trade Union Act establishes further restrictions in eligibility by excluding

l        public officials charged with job of directing or supervising other public officials with authority and responsibility to manage their work (including those public officials deputising other public officials with this responsibility) in accordance with on the basis of a law, by-law or regulations, rules, and work division authorised by a law or a by-law

l        public officials mainly engaged in generally directing or supervising other public officials within a department in assistance to the head of the department (including those public officials deputising those public officials with this responsibility)

l        public officials engaged in work concerning appoint, work assignment, disciplinary measures, appeals review, remuneration, pension and other welfare related matters

l        public officials engaged in work concerning drafting and allocation of budget and execution (excluding simple executions) and work concerning the organisation and staff level of an administrative agency

l        public officials engaged in auditing work

l        public officials engaged in security, maintenance of office facilities, maintenance of order, defence security of office, secretarial job or driving of automobiles

 

This has meant that considerable number of not only Grade 6 public officials, but also Grade 7 public officials are excluded from joining a trade union.

 

In the case of Seo-ku Office of Pusan Metropolitan City, of the 512 public officials of Grade 6 or lower (94 Grade 6, 186 Grade 7, 132 Grade 8, 87 Grade 9, technician Grade 10 13)

-    89 public officials are excluded due to subparagraph 1 of Article 3

-    3 due to subparagraph 2a of Article 3

-    1 due to subparagraph 2b of Article 3

-    10 due to subparagraph 2c of Article 3

-    3 due to subparagraph 2d of Article 3

-    27 due to subparagraph 2e of Article 3, and

-    1 public official due to subparagraph 4 of Article 3.

 

As a result, despite the principle of extending trade union rights to public officials of Grade 6 and lower, 134 public officials (26.2%) out of a total 512 public official of Grade 6 and lower are ineligible to join a trade union.

 

In the case of Wonju City of Kangwon-do Province, out of 1,130 public official of Grade 6 or lower (234 Grade 6, 389 Grade 7, 130 Grade 8, 142 Grade 9, technicians 235), 221 public officials correspond to the subparagraph 1 of the Article 3 of the Enforcement Decree, 164 public officials correspond to the subparagraph subparagraph 2, 2 public officials correspond to subparagraph 4. As a result, 387 public officials (34.2%) out of 1,130 public officials of Grade 6 or lower are not eligible to become a member of a trade union.

 

In the case of Haenam-kun in South Cholla Province, out of 691 public official of Grade 6 or lower (195 Grade 6, 203 Grade 7, 111 Grade 8, 58 Grade 9, technicians 124), 141 public officials correspond to the subparagraph 1 of the Article 3 of the Enforcement Decree, 87 public officials correspond to the subparagraph 2, 1 public official corresponds to subparagraph 4. As a result, 229 public officials (33.1%) out of 691 public officials of Grade 6 or lower are prohibited from joining a trade union.

 

While the main problem for central government ministries lies in prohibition of trade union rights for public officials of Grade 5 who are mainly engaged in implementation work, there are portions of Grade 6 public officials who are denied the trade union right.

 

In the case of Fair Trade Commission, there are 171 public officials of Grade 6 or lower in the central office (104 Grade 6, 18 Grade 7, 1 researcher, 3 technician Grade 9, 45 technician Grade 10), 82 public officials of Grade 6 or lower in regional offices (30 Grade 6, 33 Grade 7, 16 technician Grade 10), with a total of 253. The number of public officials, among them, who corresponds to subparagraph 2a is 18, subparagraph 2c is 4, subparagraph 2d is 2 subparagraph 2e is 27. As a result a total of 51 out of 253 public officials of Grade 6 or lower (20.2%) are not eligible to be members of a trade union.

 

The situation is even worse in the education related offices. There are 60,787 public officials of Grade 6 or lower in 16 Education Office. Of this, 45,122 public officials work in state public schools. Most of these public officials work as administrative directors, security guards, drivers, or sanitation supervisor. As a result, the number of public officials who are not eligible to join a trade union due to the criteria set out in the Article 3 of the Enforcement Decree is estimated to be more than 42,550 (those working in schools are 40,609). This represents 70% of the public officials of Grade 6 or lower. In the case of public officials working in schools, the ratio is close to 90%.

 

Grade 6 public officials who become ineligible to join a union under the Article 3 amount to 30% of those employed in local governments. This surpasses 16.7% anticipated by the law itself. In this regard, The National Human Rights Commission, in its November 28, 2005 ruling found the ¡°Enforcement Decree Draft¡± which ¡°excludes more than 90% of Grade 6 general public officials in city, kun, ku municipalities from joining a union¡± is unconstitutional and illegitimate.

 

3. Collective Bargaining and Collective Bargaining Agreement

 

A. Illegitimacy of the Stipulation of Agenda Prohibited from Bargaining

 

The proviso in the Paragraph 1 of the Article 8 of the Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials¡¯ Trade Unions removes ¡°matters concerning policy decisions the State or local governments are authorized to make by laws, etc. and matters concerning the management and operation of the organization, such as exercising the right to appointment, but not directly related to working conditions¡± from becoming matters for collective bargaining.

 

However, the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act, which proclaim the principle of autonomy of relations between the labour and the management, does not stipulate that certain matters are prohibited from collective bargaining. The Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Teachers¡¯ Trade Union is the same in this regard. There are differing views concerning whether matters related to personnel decision, financial arrangement, business decisions, reinstatement of dismissed workers, release of workers from work to devote full-time to the affairs of a union are legitimate matters for collective bargaining. Some view that they are matters of obligatory bargaining as they are matters within the power of employer. Matters of management are seen as matters for obligatory bargaining if they affect working conditions. Some, on the other hand, hold the view that matters concerning management decisions are discretionary/voluntary matters for collective bargaining. Which ever view prevails, however, it is possible for a union to ¡°demand¡± collective bargaining on matters that are listed in the proviso of the Article 8 Paragraph 1 and the employer may possibly entertain engaging in collective bargaining on these issues.

 

The inclusion of specific matters to be excluded from becoming subject to collective bargaining, as in the Public Officials Trade Union Act, is a serious infringement on the principle of autonomy of industrial relations.

 

According to a report produced by the MOGAHA, collective bargaining agreements   albeit without legal status   have been concluded in 35 cities, kuns, or ku (various levels of municipality structure) in the last three years since the formation of the Korean Government Employees Union in March 2002. Many of these agreements contain provisions which call for ¡°disclosure of project facilitation expenditure by heads of the organisation¡±, ¡°enhancement of transparency in matters of personnel decisions¡±, ¡°avoidance of discretionary contracting in engaging private contractors and strengthening of objective bidding system¡±. All these provisions target the problems of corruption that are prevalent in the public officialdom. The proviso in the Article 8 Paragraph 1 of the new Public Officials Trade Union Act provides a ground for the heads of organisations to reject the demand of a trade union to include these matters concerning the reform of the government services and corruption issues in collective bargaining. This will lead to pressure on the Korean Government Employees Union to abandon its efforts for ¡°the reform of government services and the eradication of corruption¡±.

 

B. The relationship between ¡°laws, bylaws, or budget¡± and collective bargaining agreement

 

The Article 10 Paragraph 1 of the Public Officials Trade Union Act states, ¡°in collective agreements concluded pursuant to Article 9, provisions stipulated by laws, bylaws or budget and provisions stipulated by the authority delegated by laws or bylaws shall not have the effect of collective agreements¡±.

 

Most of matters concerning wage and working conditions of public officials, 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¡±, such as the State Public Officials Act, State Public Officials Duty Regulation, the Public Officials Remuneration Regulation, the Local Public Officials Act, Local Public Officials Duty Regulation, Local Public Officials Work Bylaw, Local Public Officials Remuneration Regulation, etc. Therefore, even if a collective agreement, which has precedence over these laws, bylaws, budget and other regulations is concluded, it fails to have any effect as a collective agreement on the basis of the Article 10 Paragraph 1 of the Public Officials Trade Union Act.

 

The MOGAHA goes even further in extending the area of exclusion in its ¡°Work Manual Concerning Public Officials Organisations¡±. It provides an interpretation that ¡°rules that set out provision on the basis of authority delegated by a bylaw cannot be subject matters for collective agreement. The Ministry further undermines the effect of collective agreement by stating ¡°the failure to implement those matters which the government¡¯s bargaining representative can legitimately manage and decide on through ¡®enforcement decrees¡¯ may be a subject of moral and political burden, but not legal responsibility.¡±

 

It is possible to uphold the efficacy of collective agreement while fully respecting the power of the National Assembly or local councils on the basis of the principle of separation of power.  Formulations such as ¡°government has legal obligation to present a legislative amendment bill, a bylaw amendment bill, or supplementary budget bill incorporating the requirement arising from the conclusion of a collective agreement¡± or ¡°the effect of a collective agreement is conditional upon the approval of the relevant legislature¡±. This paves the way for bringing in the conclusion of a collective agreement to be reflected in laws, bylaws or budget. The power to initiate or amend ¡°Presidential Decrees¡± or the ¡°measures undertaken on the basis of delegation of authority of a law or a bylaw¡± is in the hands of the State or local governments: they are, therefore, not matters that infringe the principle of separation of powers. Despite this, the Public Officials Trade Union Act denies the possibility of efficacy of collective bargaining on these matters. 

 

The effect of the proviso leads to unacceptable situation. A collective agreement concluded, for example, in 2006, on matters for which the State or local government have legitimate competency to decide on, as in ¡°presidential decrees¡± or ¡°measures undertaken on the basis of delegation of authority of a law or a bylaw¡± may end up not having any effect because it stands contrary to the substance of a pre-existing ¡°presidential decree¡± or ¡°measures undertaken on the basis of delegation of authority of a law or a bylaw¡±, which may have been unilaterally initiated by the State or a local government in the previous year. This runs in the face of the principle of acting in ¡°good faith¡±.

 

4. The Right to Collective Action

 

The Act on the Establishment and Operation of Public Officials¡¯ Trade Union prohibits collective action by any public official. Such a blanket prohibition, on top of the severe restrictions in the right of collective bargaining and the limitation on collective agreements on matters of working conditions, reduce trade unions and their activities to a state of meaninglessness. Article 18 stipulates that ¡°a person who engages in strikes, work slowdowns and other activities undermining normal business operation ¡¦ shall be punished by imprisonment of up to five years or a fine not exceeding 50 million won¡± to enforce the ¡°prohibition of industrial action¡±. This provision only highlights the innate hostility held by the Korean Government on the very idea of industrial relations and industrial action.

 

5. Other issues

 

The Public Officials Trade Union Act, in stipulating [Article 17(3)] that Articles 88 through 92, and Article 96 (1) 3 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act shall not apply to trade unions under this Act, removes penal action against an employer¡¯s unfair labour practice. As a result, a public officials trade union, which does not have the right to take industrial action, has no legal means to counteract the unfair refusal of an employer to engage in collective bargaining or failure by an employer to implement collective agreement.

 

The Public Officials Trade Union Act also prohibits public officials trade unions and public officials from engaging in political activities (Article 4). The current prohibition of political activities is a copy of the similar prohibition on trade unions in general in the past, reflecting the prevalent hostility to the very idea of trade union activities. Public officials are members of the society, and should be able to engage in political activities, including expression of political views, at least as long as they do not infringe on the work they are responsible for as public officials. Trade unions of public officials should also be able to engage in political activities. The general prohibition of political activities, regardless of their direct links with the actual work of public officials is a gross violation of basic rights.

 

 

II. The Government Actions to Destroy the Korean Government Employees¡¯ Union as the ¡°Public Officials Trade Union Act¡± Comes into Effect

 

The Korean Government has launched a concerted campaign, with the coming into effect of the ¡°Act on the Establishment and Operation, etc. of Public Officials¡¯ Trade Unions¡±, to destroy the existing trade union of government employees in the civil service. The introduction of the new law, which is purportedly aimed at guaranteeing trade union rights of civil service government employees, is being used as the pretext for the Government¡¯s attempt to deny the existence of the Korean Government Employees Union, which has a membership of 140,000. The Government is refusing to engage in any kind of dialogue with the KGEU; rather, it is intent on destroying it.

 

The attitude and response of the Korean Government towards trade unions of public officials are proving to be no different to that it had demonstrated in 2002, when it mobilised massive police force to disrupt the inauguration assembly of the KGEU, arresting 178 delegates attending the founding conference.

 

The ¡°Joint Announcement¡± of the Ministers of Justice, Government Administration and Home Affairs, and Labour, declaring ¡°strict measures on illegal activities by organisations of public officials¡±

 

On February 8, 2006, the Ministers of three government ministries   Ministry of Justice, MOGAHA, and the Ministry of Labour   held a joint press conference to issue an ¡°Announcement concerning illegal activities of organisations of public officials¡±. The joint announcement contained a declaration of the Government¡¯s intent to take strict measures on illegal activities by illegal organisations of public officials, such as, the so-called Korean Government Employees Union¡±. (¡°Government Announcement: ¡®Stern Measures Against Illegal Activities by Public Officials Organisations¡¯¡±. Press Release, February 8, 2006, MOGAHA)

 

The Government made clear that the joint announcement was undertaken to ¡°make clear that the Government is committed to bring about voluntary withdrawal of membership from illegal organisations and to respond sternly to all illegal activities¡±. The joint announcement revealed the main forms of action that the Government is planning to take: 1) disallow any collective bargaining and conclusion of collective bargaining agreement with illegal organisations engaged in trade union activities without submitting notice of establishment as a trade union pursuant to the new law; disallow release from work to serve as full-time officers of the union, disallow check-off arrangement, provision of office space, and any other facilities to illegal organisation; 2) force the leaders and public officials who are members of illegal organisations to voluntarily withdraw membership from the illegal organisations; take legal sanctions against any illegal collective activities; but extend active assistance if the currently illegal organisation is intending to transform themselves into legal trade unions; 3) undertake administrative and financial sanctions against local governments which fail to comply with the Government¡¯s directive and engage in collective bargaining or conclude collective bargaining agreement with an illegal organisation, or engage in any other actions which overlook or facilitate illegal activities by the illegal organisations; sanctions may take the form of reduction in the allocation of special revenue, exclusion from various state projects, etc.

 

The Government¡¯s Joint Announcement outlines its basic position in conjunction with the coming into effect, on January 28, 2006, of the Public Officials Trade Union Act. The announcement came soon after the election of the new leadership of KGEU, conducted on January 25, 26 and February 2 and 3 by the vote of all the members of the union and the referendum on the affiliation to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. The Government¡¯s announcement reflects its basic attitude to the KGEU. In the announcement, it stated, ¡°the so-called Korean Government Employees Union has elected a person who has been de-commissioned or dismissed as a result of the illegal collective action on November 15, 2004, and thus cannot be qualified to represent a public officials trade union as its president; it has also publicly stated that it would refuse to comply with the law and remain an illegal organisation and continue to conduct intense campaigns, causing deep insecurity among the people.¡±

 

The Government mentioned that ¡°some public officials have formed labour organisation and have conducted activities even before the coming into effect of the law. This was deemed to be a part of preparatory activities for the establishment of a trade union. As such, the Government had respected to a certain degree these collective activities¡±. (¡°Enforcement Decree on the Public Officials Trade Union Act Completed¡±. Press Release, January 24, 2006, Ministry of Labor) However, the February 8 Joint Announcement made clear that the Government is determined to reject the government employees who had been de-commissioned or dismissed as a result of the KGEU¡¯s strike in November 2004, the KGEU declaration on freedom of political activities in March 2004, the ¡°collective use of annual leave¡± in November 2002, the founding of the KGEU in March 2002, and for the activities of the Korean Association of Government Employees¡¯ Work Councils (KAGEWC), the predecessor organisation of the KGEU as ineligible to be representatives of a public officials trade union. The Government is intent on denying that the above listed ¡°events¡± had taken place in the course of efforts to secure the basic rights of freedom of association and bringing about changes in law to firmly establish these rights.

 

The attitude of the Government was made clear in the way it had responded to the elections for the new leadership of the KGEU and the referendum on affiliation to the KCTU, as can be seen in the government documents. (¡°Notification of Directives on Measures towards Leadership Election of the So-called KGEU¡±. Official Letter, January 24, 2006, Seoul Metropolitan City // Notification on Run-off Election in Leadership Election of the KGEU¡±. Official Letter, January 31, 2006, Wonju City // ¡°Special Directive of the Vice-Mayor in Relation to the Run-off Election of the KGEU¡±. Official Letter, February 1, 2006, Wonju City) The Government refuses to recognise an organisation   KGEU   which has been in existence for five years with a total membership of 140,000. Moreover, it has been intent on interfering in its activities and preventing its continued existence.

 

The ¡°Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership)

 

The ¡°Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership), adopted by the MOGAHA, and transmitted all government ministries, agencies, and Provinces and Metropolitan Cities, on March 22, 2006, is a clear case of ¡°unfair labour practice¡± and campaign of repression against the KGEU, not to mention serious human rights violation. (Annex 1, ¡°Notification of the Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership)¡±. Official Letter, March 22, MOGAHA)

 

The Directive clearly denotes the KGEU as an illegal organisation. The Government logic is simple: the establishment and operation of a public officials trade union is only possible in pursuant to the Public Officials Trade Union Act   therefore, the KGEU is an illegal organisation that has failed to submit notice of establishment pursuant to this law. The notice of establishment, however, is a matter that should be determined independently by a trade union; it is not a matter that the Government or an employer may order or instruct. The MOGAHA, however, dictates that no dialogue and collective bargaining will be permitted for illegal organisation that engages in activities without having submitted a notice of establishment¡±. It instructs all the Government offices ¡°to force transformation into a legal trade union and to issue orders to voluntarily withdraw membership¡±. The system of giving notice of establishment is intended to extend rights and protection to a trade union provided by the law. Therefore, it is not the case that a trade union cannot engage in activities for not having given notice of establishment. Furthermore, it is illegitimate to force a dissolution of an organisation and to pressure its members to withdraw membership. The Korean Government Employees Union currently objects to the various problems inherent in the Public Officials Trade Union Act. In refusing to submit notice of establishment pursuant to this flawed law, it may not be able to enjoy the protection that may be extended from this law, but, this does not make it an illegal trade union   if legal status was to be sought, the KGEU could be characterised as a trade union outside the scope of the law.

 

The MOGAHA is in position of an employer in industrial relations pertaining to government employees. Its refusal to engage in dialogue, determination of the KGEU as an illegal organisation and efforts to bring about its dissolution, and pressuring the members to withdraw membership is a clear case of hostile action towards an independently formed trade union. It is an act to destroy the trade union. The Ministry also makes clear that it intends to mobilise ¡°all the related Ministries and offices and the public prosecutors office and the police in close cooperation¡± to push ahead with a ¡°government-wide effort to bring about transformation into legal trade unions and voluntary withdrawal of membership¡±. The actions outlined by the Ministry contradicts the Government¡¯s rhetoric of commitment to build sound industrial relations.

 

The efforts to bring about ¡°transformation into legal trade union¡±, ¡°voluntary withdrawal of membership¡±, and disciplinary sanctions are clear cases of unfair labour practice. The Article 17(2) and 17(3) of the Public Officials Trade Union Act[1] draws on the Article 7(2) of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act, which states

 

[Article 7(1)] Trade unions which are not established by this Act shall not make an application for adjustment of industrial disputes and for remedy for unfair labor practices to the Labor Relations Commission.

[Article 7(2)] The provisions of paragraph (1) shall not be construed as excluding the protection of workers under subparagraphs 1, 2, 5, of Article 81.

 

Article 81 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act states:

Employers shall not commit an act which falls within any of the following subparagraphs (hereafter referred to as ¡°unfair labor practices¡±):

1. dismissal of or discrimination against a worker on the grounds that the worker has joined, or intended to join a trade union or to establish a trade union, or has performed a justifiable act for the operation of a trade union.

2. employment of a worker on the condition that the worker should not join or should withdraw from a trade union, or should join a particular trade union. [Remaining parts abridged]

5. dismissal of or discrimination against a work on the grounds that the worker has taken part in justifiable collective activities, or has reported the violation of the provisions of this Article by the employer to the Labor Relations Commission, or has testified about such violations or has presented evidences to administrative authorities.

 

Even if the KGEU has opted to remain outside the law, forgoing the protection (to claim remedy for unfair labour practice) in case of the unfair refusal by the employer to engage in collective bargaining (Article 81.3)[2] because of its objection to the extreme restrictions contained in the law concerning collective bargaining and the efficacy of collective bargaining agreement, the ¡°Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership)¡±, which also contains threat of punitive sanctions, is a clear case of unfair labour practice as stipulated by the subparagraphs 1, 2, and 5 of the Article of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act.

 

Furthermore, the effort to force a trade union to submit a notice of establishment, or to force ¡°voluntary withdrawal of membership¡± or ¡°transformation into a legal trade union¡± by a resolution of a general assembly or delegates conference or to force the resignation of the elected leaders are all unfair labour practices as stipulated in the subparagraph 4 of the Article 81[3] of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act.

 

The Directive issued by the MOGAHA directs that ¡°The heads of central administrative agencies and offices at all levels and the heads of local governments shall, immediately upon the receipt of this Directive, press the member staff and the Workplace Associations which in reality engage in activities as illegal organisations to transform themselves into legal trade unions at the earliest date as possible, and issue work order to voluntarily withdraw membership from illegal organisations in the form of official letter¡±. At the same time, it directs that the ¡°work order¡± should ¡°indicate clearly and in detail the disciplinary measures and disadvantages to be enforced in case of failure to comply with the order¡±.

 

The Directive outlines detailed measures aimed at destroying the union. It calls for a ¡°prohibition of check-off arrangement for membership due¡± and threatens sanctions against public officials in supervisory positions who fail to comply fully with the Directive for negligence. It spells out ¡°heavy disciplinary penalties against leaders (exclusion from appointment)¡±, ¡°forceful measures such as closure of the offices of illegal organisations¡±, ¡°nullification of all existing agreements and prohibition of all consultation and assistance¡±, ¡°removal of the name plaque¡± and instructs to ¡°secure, if necessary, the cooperation of police¡±.

 

The Directive directs all government offices to establish ¡°man-to-man persuasion team¡±, and ¡°the high ranking official charged with responsibility¡± to undertake ¡°individual (joint) contact with the target member of the leadership, visit of the family, telephone calls, to persuade the person in question and his/her family members.¡± They are instructed to ¡°make clear strongly that there will be disciplinary action for failure to comply with order and other disadvantageous measures, such as punitive fines for illegal use of the term ¡®trade union¡¯ (in the case of the organisation and its elected representatives)¡±.

 

The proposed ¡°individual contacts¡±, ¡°home visits¡±, and ¡°telephone calls¡± to persuade the person in question and his/her family members are cases of serious human rights violation. The establishment of ¡°persuasion teams¡± to conduct individual contacts to press for withdrawal of membership is an abuse of the state power for the purposes of infringement of freedom of conscience that lies at the heart of human dignity. The idea of visiting family members to force withdrawal of membership from a trade union is no different from threats against family used widely in the past by military regimes in their anti-union drive.

 

The State or local government should not collect personal information for the purposes of trade union repression, human rights violation, and other illegitimate purposes. They cannot make use of the already collective information for the purposes of trade union repression, human rights violation and other illegitimate purposes. But, the Directive directs all local government authorities to collect and submit the list of the elected leaders of the KGEU branches, including those members who had been de-commissioned or dismissed, in blatant violation of human rights.

 

The Directive threatens that the names of the government agencies and local governments with ¡°poor performance¡± shall be ¡°made public through media release¡± and will penalised in the ¡°annual agency evaluation and other administrative and financial penalties will be applied¡±.

 

The Government indicates in the Directive that it shall, in April, undertake a ¡°comprehensive inspection of industrial relations in the public officials sector¡± in all ¡°central government ministries and local governments where illegal organisations have been established¡±. It will be ¡°conducted jointly by local government departments and audit departments under the coordination of the Public Officials Organisation Supervision Team of the MOGAHA¡± with ¡°police cooperation if necessary¡±.

 

The Government also intends to hold a ¡°public officials sector industrial relations counter-measure conference¡± to discuss ¡°governmental level measures for administrative and financial penalty for agencies and offices which have failed to comply with the Government¡¯s Directive¡±. It intends to ¡°hold consultation with the Office for Government Policy Coordination on penalty measures to be undertaken at each ministry.¡±

 

The Government makes clear in the Directive its intention to mobilise the whole of its resources in its union-busting drive.

 

The Progress in Implementation of the Directive

 

The MOGAHA took action to implement the Directive. It sent out an official letter to seeking cooperation of all government offices and organisations and the local governments in establishing and carrying out an ¡°education plan¡± to ¡°press for the transformation of illegal public officials organisations into legal trade union and to bring about voluntary withdrawal of membership. (¡°Education Plan on Transforming Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership)¡±. Official Letter, March 22, 2006, MOGAHA)

 

The first such ¡°education¡± was conducted for public officials in all local governments and Education Office responsible for dealing with matters related to public officials organisation. This involved explaining the Directive to some 532 public officials. The second session involved a circuit education coordinated by the MOGAHA. In this official letter, the Ministry planned to hold education session at 5 Ministries and 2 Agencies and 14 Province and Metropolitan City governments, involving all of 15,519 public officials, to be completed by the end of March. The aim of the education was the same: to ¡°press for the transformation of illegal organisations into legal trade unions and voluntary withdrawal of membership by individual public officials who were members.¡±

 

The Province and Metropolitan City governments, then, proceeded to hold explanation sessions and circuit education coordinated by the MOGAHA, in accordance with the Directive and Education Plan of the Ministry, for all the municipal governments and agencies under their jurisdiction. (¡°Notification (issuance) of the Plan for Education and Promotional Activities for the Transformation to Legal Trade Union¡±. Official Letter, March 21, 2006, Seoul Metropolitan City)

 

The Province and Metropolitan City governments directed all the municipal governments and subsidiary organisations to ¡°prohibit the check-off arrangement for the membership dues of illegal public officials organisations and illegal use of the term trade union¡±. (¡°Prohibition of Check-Off Service for Membership Dues of Illegal Public Officials Organisations and the Use of the Term ¡®Trade Union¡¯ in the Name of an Organisation¡±. Official Letter, (n.d.), Seoul Metropolitan City)

 

The Directive of the MOGAHA, sent to all government ministries and Province and Metropolitan Cities, then were sent further down the line of the government structure, to all municipal governments and lower level organisations. The Seoul Metropolitan City directed the Ku (municipality, county) Office and organisations under its jurisdiction to the ¡°plan to press illegal public officials organisations to transform into legal trade unions and bring about voluntary withdrawal of membership by the public officials who were members of illegal public officials organisations in an effort to establish a sound and exemplary public officials industrial relations, uphold law and order, and to establish discipline in the public officialdom.¡± It instructed them to actively carry out the Directive. (¡°Notification of the Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership¡±. Official Letter, March 30, 2006, Seoul Metropolitan City)

 

The municipal governments, thus instructed, began to carry out the Directive towards all public officials. The Directive was relayed to all lower level administrative offices at the eup, myeon, and dong levels, and all local branches of government agencies and service centres. (¡°Notification of the Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership¡±. Official Letter, March 27, 2006, Wonju City // ¡°Notification of the Plan to Enforce Transformation of Public Officials Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership)¡±. Official Letter, March 29, 2006, County of Cheongyang-kun)

 

The MOGAHA has begun to inspect the progress of the implementation of the Directive as planned. (¡°General Inspection on the Performance in Promoting the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership)¡±. Official Letter, April 7, 2006, MOGAHA) The Ministry is working to a plan which calls for ¡°inspection of the reports submitted to the Ministry by April 14¡± and second round of inspection involving ¡°on field verification in late April¡±. The Ministry had instructed all government offices to produce and submit a report on ¡°Check list on the progress of transformation of illegal organisations into legal trade unions¡±. It plans to conduct on-field verification on the basis of an inspection of the submitted reports, after identifying those offices which have failed to submit reports, those which have poor performance record, and other which are deemed to need on-field verification¡±. The Ministry plans to hold a Government-wide ¡°conference on counter-measures for public officials industrial relations¡±.

 

Ulsan Metropolitan City has produced a report on ¡°Findings from Examination of the State of Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions¡±, believed to be for the purpose of submission to the MOGAHA. (¡°Inspection Report on the Performance in Promoting the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions¡±. Official Letter, April 14, 2006, Ulsan Metropolitan City) While the report contains some exaggeration to embellish the local government¡¯s performance, it does shed a light on the pressures felt by trade unions due to the Ministry¡¯s Directive and the actions and threats of the local government authorities. The authorities seem to be aware of ¡°confidential¡± plans of groups within some chapters of the KGEU which are considering transformation into legal trade union. The report shows clearly the various efforts undertaken by the authorities to undermine the KGEU, multifaceted pressures to force withdrawal of membership and to bring about a transformation into legal trade union.

 

The Government¡¯s own documents show clearly how it is going about publicly and covertly to pressure more than 140,000 members of the KGEU to withdraw membership and to join ¡°legal trade union¡±. The KGEU is being branded as illegal organisation as it does not seek to submit notice of establishment pursuant to the new Public Officials Trade Union Act, and its members are subject to various threats and inhuman monitoring.

 

The actions of the Korean Government can be seen as an effort to give legitimacy to the new Public Officials Trade Unions Act which has been subject to much criticism within and without Korea, as it fails to reflect the views of the government employees and their organisations. The intention is to demonstrate that there are ¡°legal¡± trade unions which accept to operate within the parameters of the new law. In doing so, it hopes to sweep away all the criticism that has pointed out the shortcomings and problems in the new law. The actions of the Government since the coming into effect of the Public Officials Trade Union Act, however, have demonstrated that the it is not so committed to the principle of guaranteeing trade union rights of government employees in the civil service, which is the purported purpose of the new law, but, is, instead, intent on destroying the Korean Government Employees Unions, which has been established as an independent and democratic trade union, with a membership of more than 140,000. The ¡°sound and exemplary public officials industrial relations¡±   referred to in the Directive -- that the government seeks is being established by repression and attacks on the KGEU. The recent actions of the Korean Government again bring to spot light its attitude that trade union rights of public officials should be limited, restricted, and kept in control for the purposes of ¡°upholding law and order¡± and ¡°establishing discipline in the public officialdom¡± as the Government repeats in all its orders and in the Directive.

 

Forceful closing down of KGEU local offices nation wide

 

1)

 

The Gyeongnam Officials Training Institute, an affiliated agency to the provincial government issued an official letter on August 29 informing that it would execute the administrative action to forcefully close down the KGEU's branch office at 16:00 on August 30 (¡°Notification on Implementation of Administrative Execution for Forceful Closure of Union Office¡±, Official Letter, August 29, 2006, Gyeongnam Officials Training Center). The warrant attached to the official letter stipulates that, according to the government instruction that prohibits providing offices to unregistered government employees' unions by the public officials trade union act, the forceful administrative action would be executed.

 

Hundreds of riot cops have been deployed around the union office right away. And KGEU members are prohibited from entering the union office except 4 union staffs working there. Riot cops were deployed again inside and outside of the office building and blocked KGEU members from entering the union office. Several union members tried to block the forceful close down of the union office in vain. They were oppressively moved out by the police. The union office was sealed off with thick plywood with a warning sign attached.

 

These closing down of the KGEU offices nation wide is based on "the directive to promote the transformation of illegal organisations into legal trade unions (voluntary withdrawal of membership)" on March 22 by the MOGAHA and another directive "to take thorough countermeasuring including forceful closing down of the illegal government employees' organisations against illegal activities" is propelling this kind of actions nation wide. (¡°Thorough Countermeasuring Including Forceful Closing Down of the Illegal Government Employees¡¯ Organisations against Illegal Activities¡±, Official Letter, August 3, 2006, MOGAHA)

 

The MOGAHA instructed all the local governments and agencies to weekly submit "performance records regarding the directive on March 22" (MOGAHA Official Letter, Public Officials Organisation Supervision Team-1479, May 23, 2006). The records should have information on "lists of the leaders of illegal organisations", and "outcomes from propelling such transformations".

 

On June 7, the MOGAHA asked for the local governments concerned to take disciplinary measures against the KGEU members participating in the rally in front of the Rural Development Administration on May 25 (MOGAHA Official Letter, Public Officials Organisation Supervision Team-1588, June 7, 2006). The ministry even pointed out the KGEU members concerned with an attached list. (It is provincial or metropolitan city governments that take disciplinary measures against local government employees.) The KGEU Chapter of the Rural Development Administration (RDA) tackled the undemocratic management of the RDA, which promotes the promotion review, and asked to introduce a single grade system. In response to this attempt, the Administrator of the RDA announced that any action, even wearing the trade union jacket would be punished and RDA cleared the site of the demonstration in use of violence. On May 25 around 11:00, members of the KGEU moved to the main gate of the RDA to participate in the KGEU rally. The police blocked the gate despite of the fact that the demonstration was legally reported to the authorities in advance. Members of the KGEU protested against this and got arrested by the riot police from the Suwon Jungbu police station.

 

On June 21, the MOGAHA disseminated another official document, calling on local governments to execute the government directives and instructions and to take stern responses to all illegal activities(MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-1771, June 21, 2006). During the campaign for the local election on May 31, several candidates answered to KGEU's policy questionnaires that they would recognise the unions and guarantee independent trade union activities when elected. The MOGAHA document asked "to discard their written pledge or promise of the governor-elected on recognition of the KGEU". The ministry claimed on the document that "connivance at activities of illegal orgaisations in discord of the government directive would have bad effects on establishing labour relations in civil service." Moreover, the ministry warned that "the local governments that bargain or even conclude a collective agreement with illegal organisations and give any support like overlooking of full-time union staffs, allowing of union dues check-off and providing an office to illegal organisations will be taken to administrative and financial actions government-wide for disadvantages."

 

The KGEU held a rally on July 8 in protest of the government repression. More than 2,000 KGEU members participated in the rally, which was legally notified to the police in advance and held on Saturday. However, the ministry requested local governments and agencies to take "thorough countermeasuring in advance against KGEU's rally on July 8, for it is illegal activities violating public officials act stipulating prohibition of collective activities (MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-1861, June 29, 2006)". At the rally, several officers from the MOGAHA and the police videotaped and photographed the participants of the rally. Shortly after then, the MOGAHA sent local governments and agencies an official letter with the videotape and the photos requesting of the list of the KGEU members participating in the rally (MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-61, July 11, 2006).

 

On August 3, the ministry issued another directive "to take thorough countermeasuring including forceful closing down of the illegal government employees' organisations against illegal activities" (MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-406, August 3, 2006). The ministry requested all the local governments, ministries and agencies to take firm actions against KGEU. It asked "to close down all the KGEU offices in government buildings nation wide by August 31." It asked "to exclude KGEU members from personnel committees, to actively encourage all the government employees joining illegal organisations to withdraw memberships, to prohibit union dues check-off system and to blocking any financial supports like voluntary contribution or donation to the organisations." It asked for "positive efforts to stop payment of union dues through cash management system(CMS)". After prohibition of union dues check-off, KGEU encouraged its members to pay union dues through CMS from the bank account. Finally it stated that the ministry will investigate the actual process and conditions on implementing government directives and instructions together with auditing departments and it will take administrative and financial actions government wide against the local governments that don't implement the directives.

 

In fact, the government held a meeting of the vice-ministers concerned to deal with government employees' organisations on July 21, 2006. The meeting was presided by the Minister of the MOGAHA and confirmed that the government would take actions for disadvantages against the local governments such as Songpa-gu(municipality, district) in Seoul Metropolitan City and Anyang city in Gyeonggi-do(province) that haven't implemented the government directives and instructions. And the ministry listed up what kinds of administrative and financial actions could be taken to give disadvantages to such local governments (MOGAHA Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-317, July 27, 2006).

 

On August 21, the Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs issued and sent all the government employees a letter "demanding to withdraw from illegal organisations such as so-called the KGEU".

 

2)

 

Since the MOGAHA issued another directive instructing local governments and agencies "to take thorough countermeasuring including forceful closing down of the offices of illegal government employees' organisations against illegal activities" (MOGAHA, Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-406, August 3, 2006), the instruction was spread out along the line of the government structure throughout the country.

 

On August 7, Seoul Metropolitan City held a meeting of heads of general affairs departments in its municipalities (gu or ku) and agencies. (Seoul Metropolitan City, Material for Meeting of Heads of General Affairs Departments of Municipalities and Agencies, August 7, 2006) The metropolitan government referred again to the MOGAHA Directive on March 22, 2006, and clarified its plan to give advantages and disadvantages to its municipalities in accordance with the performance results implementing the directive. According to the plan, Songpa-gu, that has not issued work orders instructing government employees in the municipality to voluntarily withdraw from the KGEU, will be taken to administrative and financial disadvantage measures and Eunpyeong-gu, where the KGEU chapter disaffiliated from the union, will be granted incentives like special subsidiary. Moreover, the Seoul metropolitan government pointed out illegal activities of government employees¡¯ organizations depending on whether it¡¯s legal or not.

 

In fact the government held a meeting of the vice-ministers concerned to deal with government employees' organisations on July 21, 2006. The meeting was presided by the Minister of the MOGAHA and confirmed that the government would take actions for disadvantages against the local governments such as Songpa-gu(municipality, district) in Seoul Metropolitan City and Anyang city in Gyeonggi-do(province) that haven't implemented the government directives and instructions. And the ministry listed up what kinds of administrative and financial actions could be taken to give disadvantages to such local governments (MOGAHA, Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-317, July 27, 2006).

 

Gangwon-do (province) issued an official letter instructing its municipalities to ¡°force implementation of actions including forceful closing down of the offices of illegal government employees¡¯ organizations¡± (Gangwon-do Province, Official Letter, General Affairs Department-17638, August 28, 2006) The Gangwon-do provincial government instructed its municipalities ¡°to close down the offices of the KGEU in the government buildings by August 31, 2006 as well as to encourage government employees to withdraw from illegal organizations and to prohibit them from individually paying union dues through cash management system (CMS).¡±

 

Busan Metropolitan City warned the KGEU Busan Regional Branch with an official letter that, if the union does not move out from the office in the city hall by August 31, it would forcefully execute the administrative action to close down the union office (Busan Metropolitan City, Official Letter, Department of Civil Service-11316, August 17, 2006). The metropolitan government stated that, ¡°according to the government directive, that forbids offering offices to the government employees¡¯ unions which have not submitted notification of establishment under the public officials trade union act, they would not offer the office for the KGEU any longer.¡± All the municipalities under the Busan Metropolitan City have been proceeding the same actions. Seo-gu municipal government asked for the Busan Seo-gu Government Employees¡¯ Work Council to close down the office by August 31, 2006 (Busan Seo-gu Municipality, Official Letter, General Affairs Department-13212, August 16, 2006).  

 

However, as of August 31, 2006, only two KGEU local offices had been forcefully closed down. Thus, the MOGAHA issued new directives on September 1 and 13, 2006, that urged all the government organs ¡°to actively force implementation of actions to forcefully close down the offices of illegal government employees¡¯ organizations by September 22, 2006.¡± (MOGAHA, Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-778 and 875, August 1 and 13, 2006) The ministry demanded all the local governments, ministries and agencies to implement closing down of the KGEU local offices nation wide. The ministry warned that those who were adopting a lukewarm attitude will be audited and examined later on. They underlined the schedule as follows; a) issuing warrants of administrative execution of closing down of the union office: by September 15th. b) notifying implementation of the administrative execution : by September 20th. c) implementation of administrative execution of closing down of the union office(nation wide simultaneously): 15:00 September 22nd. The same directives had been delivered down to all levels of the government structure. (Gyeonggi-do Bucheon City, Official Letter, General Affairs Department-15361, September 3, 2006 // Gwangju Metropolitan City, Official Letter, General Affairs Department-9861, September 13, 2006) 

 

- Attacks on the KGEU local offices nation wide by the riot police and specially hired thugs

 

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 hire 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. (The pictures on forceful closure of KGEU local offices are annexed (Annex 2), and also see the video clip submitted together with this report.)

 

On September 22, 2006, the first attack started from the KGEU Seoul Guro-gu Chapter office. From 06:10, hundreds of specially-hired thugs stormed into the union office with the riot police deployed around the municipality building. The municipality hired the thugs to implement the administrative execution to shut down the union office. While the thugs attacked the KGEU members to move them out, the riot cops deployed remained unconcerned and instead blocked up the union office. The KGEU members inside were forcefully pulled out, during which the chair of the KGEU Guro-gu Chapter, Mr. HEO Won Haeng was injured on his head and fell unconscious. He was hospitalised in an emergency, and fortunately he regained consciousness in the hospital.

 

The second target was the KGEU Seoul Jongro(Jongno)-gu Chapter, which began around 08:00. Riot police blockaded the municipality hall. The police started from outside the building, with the aim of isolating KGEU members who were inside to protect the office. Dozens of people from the KGEU and other solidarity organizations, who were protesting the police blockade and violent closing down, were rounded up and arrested. One from KGEU, 2 from Korean Public Service Union (KPSU; an affiliate of KCTU), and 3 from the Democratic Labour Party were arrested. They were released almost 12 hours later. Around 10:30, execution officers and the riot police stormed into the union office. They broke down the doors that were sealed from inside by the KGEU members, who were then literally carried out from the office.

 

At about the same time at 10:30, riot police and thugs stormed into the KGEU Seoul Yeongdeungpo-gu Chapter office, while dozens of members of KGEU and solidarity organisations such as KCTU and DLP were arranging a press conference. They were blocked off by the police and arrested. 7 DLP members were arrested including Ms. LEE Soo Jeong, a DLP member of Seoul Metropolitan Council and Mr. JEONG Jong Kwon, Chair of DLP Seoul. They were released at 18:50.

 

The KGEU Seoul Mapo-gu Chapter was also attacked. Union members and solidarity organization members barricaded the office, while another 20-30 solidarity activists warded off the hundreds of riot police who were deployed outside the compound. Tensions gradually built up and from noon, riot police started to move down into the basement where the union office was located, while the municipal management cut off electricity. Two people inside the union office were suffering from severe case of asthma, however, at around 14:20, the police broke through the barricade and arrested those who were inside. The chair of the chapter Mr. LEE Jae Seop, chairperson of KGEU Women¡¯s Committee Ms. LEE Yeon Sook and executive director of politics & reunification at KGEU head office Mr. KWON Jeong Hwan were arrested with other KGEU members and solidarity organization members.

 

Tensions also started to escalate from the morning at Songpa-gu, Seoul as well, where the entrances leading to the union office were blocked and elevators stopped. The 10th floor of the municipality building, where the union office is located, was filled with riot police and specially hired thugs, and the union members staying inside were violently pulled out and the office was sealed off at 18:30.

 

In Yongsan-gu, Seoul, KGEU members had barricaded the union office, however, the municipality and the police eventually broke into the union office. 18 members of KGEU and other solidarity organisations were arrested at 18:40. They were released an hour later.

 

In total, 19 KGEU offices in Seoul were forcefully closed down on September 22, 2006.

 

In Yeonsu-gu, Incheon Metropolitan City, the first attack came at 11:00. 30 minutes later, the union office were taken over by police and thugs, and the office was closed down. In Namdong-gu, Incheon, the municipality and the police obstructed all the entrances of the building from the morning. At 13:30, the union office was sealed off. As for Bupyeong-gu, Incheon, union members tried to defense the union office, but it could last only for a couple of hours and the office was eventually closed down.

 

In Buk-gu, Ulsan Metropolitan City, riot police were deployed to break into the union office building and the office was closed down at 15:00. The situation at Nam-gu, also Ulsan, was appalling. Thugs and riot police went into the room next to the union office and actually broke down the wall between the two rooms in order to barge into the office. Unfortunately, Nam-gu was not the only one. Jung-gu soon followed. The director of general affairs of the municipal broke with a claw hammer the window of the union office, at which several union members were injured. A piece of glass hit and injured the eye of a KCTU member, who had to be hospitalized due to severe bleeding. One KGEU member was also hopitalised from injuries during the raid. The police had crashed the window despite the fact that several people were nearby. As a whole, 4 chapters out of 6 were closed down.

 

Almost all offices at Gwangju Metropolitan City were forcefully closed down. At Buk-gu and Seo-gu municipalities, more than 100 KGEU, KCTU and solidarity group members gathered at each building and tried to hold off the riot police for several hours in vain. During forceful break into Buk-gu chapter office, two KCTU members were arrested. They were released a few hours later.

 

As for Daegu/Gyeongbuk branch, riot police were deployed at all municipals, at which all chapter unions with help from regional organisations built barricades to prevent the police from coming in. 16 out of 18 chapter offices were closed down. One of the chapters, Dalseong-gun, was suddenly raided at 23:00.

 

The situation at Busan was also serious. The Busan branch office was inside the Busan city hall. The police raided the branch office   which can only be interpreted as an attempt to decapitate all chapter unions in the city by targeting the branch union. 17 union members were forcefully dragged out and arrested. Of those arrested, the prosecutors' office called on the court to issue detention warrants against two local leaders, Mr. OH Bong Seop, Chair of KGEU Busan Branch, and Mr. HWANG Gi Joo, Director General of KGEU Busan Branch. But the court refused it and they were released almost two days after they were arrested. The other members were released around 26 to 32 hours after the arrest.

 

10 chapters out of 11 affiliated to Chungbuk branch were also closed down. At one of the chapters, Cheongwon, a pregnant union members fainted as riot police raided the union office.

 

In Gangwon-do (province), 6 members from KGEU and solidarity organisations were arrested in the morning when they come up to make a protest with the Minister of MOGAHA against repression on KGEU, who happened to visit Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do.

 

In Jeonbuk-do, riot police were deployed and attacks took place in almost all the KGEU local offices, which had to be forcefully closed down.

 

In Cheongyang-gun (county), Chungnae-do, at 18:00, officials from the municipal came to the union office and ordered closure of the office, however, around 70 union members and solidarity group members continued their sit-in protest, at which the municipal gave up, tore apart the official warrant for the administrative execution and promised not to attack the union office.

 

In Gyeongnam-do, hundreds of riot police stormed into the KGEU Gyeongnam Jinju Chapter office and tried to forcefully close down the office. More than 300 KGEU members and solidarity organization members firmly stayed around the union office. Although the first wave of police attack on September 22 was pulled back, much stronger one was waiting. From 17:30 of September 27, riot police began to be deployed again and at 18:00 the municipality warned that they would implement the warrant of administrative execution for forceful closing down of the union office in the next morning. The riot police already deployed at the 7th floor where the union office was located. The aisle of the floor was filled with the riot police and they were blocking union members from walking around the union office. The unionists were substantially confined. If the unionists go out for toilet, they were not allowed to come back to the office. Hundreds of the unionists and the members from solidarity organisations were blocked at the lobby of the building. What the union members of the KGEU Gyeongnam Jinju Chapter, which had protected the union office from the attacks by the riot police and the authority, faced in the morning of September 28 were much more riot policemen packed up around the building and a ladder truck outside. At 06:10, the union members and solidarity organisations members who held a protest sit-in overnight were forcefully pulled out one by one. Till 07:00, the union office was taken over by the riot police and authority.

 

As of 23:00 September 22, out of 251 KGEU chapters nationwide, 81 union offices had been forcefully closed down. Some local governments that had not raided the office on September 22 were expected to continue.

 

The MOGAHA once again stated today that "The KGEU is an illegal organisation under existing laws and it has also been against government policies." Furthermore, it arrogantly claimed that "The KGEU just needs to submit a sheet of paper for notification of union establishment under the Public Officials Trade Union Act. It is such an easy job."

 

Monday (September 25) morning saw the restart of forceful closing down of the KGEU offices.

 

From about 06:40, the riot police were deployed around the KGEU office in Boryeong, Chungnam-do(province). The union members who had been holding a sit-in protest inside the union office overnight resisted the forceful and violent closing down, but in 30 minutes they were pulled out of the union office, which was closed down right away. And an hour later, the KGEU Chungnam Seocheon Chapter office was sealed off.

 

At 08:50, the riot police were deployed around the KGEU Chungnam Yeongi Chapter office and tried to break into the office, where the union members were holding a sit-in protest. However, the riot police began using very dangerous 'weapons' - welding machines. They brought 4 welding machines, which they started to use on the office door, aiming to literally 'melt' a hole on the door. Sparks from the welding machines constantly jumped onto electric wires, setting them on fire, and filled the entire basement, where the union office was located, with thick smoke. At 15:30, the riot police swept into the union office and 21 members from the KGEU and solidarity organisations were arrested. The union office was sealed off at 16:20.

 

The KGEU Chungnam Cheongyang-gun(county) Chapter, which made the police pull back on Friday, faced another wave of attack. The riot police had been deployed again from 13:10. At 15:30, the union office was taken over by the police and authorities.

 

The KGEU Chungnam Nonsan Chapter and the KGEU Chungnam Regional Branch in the same office was attacked from 22:00 on September 25. Around 50 members from the KGEU and solidarity organisations were fighting back the forceful closing down. The electricity was cut off and the basement where the union office was located turned into darkness. At 22:30, the doors were removed away and the union office was filled with shouting and screaming. A woman member was injured and bruised and 15 were arrested. They were released in an hour.

 

In Buyeo-gun(county), Chungnam-do(province), the first attack to the union office was defeated at 11:00 September 26, but 30 minutes later the riot police began to break into the union office with a ladder truck and water cannons. They were trying to get in through the rooftop of the building spreading fire-fighting dust. The doors were broken and the union office was taken over by the riot police at 12:40. 3 KGEU members were arrested. The arrestee are Mr. SHIN Dong Woo, the director general of the KGEU Chungnam Regional Branch, Mr. SEO Jang Won, the chair of the KGEU Chungnam Buyeo-gun Chapter, Mr. YOO Byeong Hwan, the chair of the KGEU Chungnam Cheongyang-gun Chapter. And an arrest warrant was issued against one more KGEU Chungnam Branch member and he was arrested October 10 when he finished his part in a relay of one person demonstration in protest in front of the municipality building in Buyeo. Allegedly he was leading the struggle of the union to defend the office of the KGEU Buyeo Chapter. The prosecutors¡¯ office applied for a warrant of detention to the court, but the court did not accept the application of the warrant and then he was released at night on the day.

 

From 20:00 on Sep. 26, the riot police began to be deployed around the KGEU Chungnam Dangjin-gun Chapter office. Although 30 members from the KGEU and solidarity organisations were trying to protect the union office, more than 200 of the riot police and execution officials broke into the office and it was sealed off at 20:40.

 

In Jeonnam-do, 6 KGEU Chapters have been facing the forceful closing down of the union offices. In Yeongam-gun, from 09:00 the union members were being pulled out of the union office and at 10:00 the office was sealed off. In Wando-gun, the municipality mobilised a mobile crane(excavator), a ladder truck and a fire-extinguisher in front of the municipality building from 09:00. Of course the riot police were deployed as well. At 11:00 the doors to the union office were broken, the union members were forcefully pulled out and the union office was sealed off. In Guyre-gun as well, the union members were pulled out of the union office and the municipality sealed off the office at 13:00.

 

The main targets on September 27 were the KGEU chapters in Gyeonggi-do (province).

 

From 06:00, the riot police were deployed around the union office in Bucheon City in Gyeonggi-do. And the execution officials with the riot police began to try to break into the union office. Welding machines and hammers were used. At 07:00, the doors were removed. 25 union members were resisting the violent closure inside the office, to which they even chained themselves. But the riot police and the execution officials took over the office at 07:45 and the union members were pulled out.

 

An attack on the KGEU Gyeonggi Gwacheon Chapter started from 10:20 with the riot police deployed. The riot police broke the walls with hammers to sweep into the union office. The union members inside were severely beaten up and arrested at 11:30. 18 members from KGEU and solidarity organisations were arrested and taken to the local police stations. 4 of those were seriously injured and hospitalised. Fortunately they recovered well, but one of them has still to go to hospital everyday to treat his back pain.

 

In Suwon, the riot police and the execution officials broke into the union office at 09:30. The doors and the whole walls were broken down. The union members were pulled out by the riot police and a woman member was just thrown away.

 

7 more KGEU chapters in Gyeonggi-do were forcefully closed down. The KGEU Osan Chapter office was closed down at 11:30, Hwaseong Chapter at 15:40, Anyang Chapter and Goyang Chapter at 18:40, Pocheon Chapter at 19:00, Pyeongtaek chapter at 19:10 and Icheon Chapter was also shut off.

 

The same happened to the KGEU Gyeonggi Siheung Chapter and Gwangmyeong Chapter. From the dawn of September 28, the attacks started. It didn¡¯t take more than an hour. 2 members from the KGEU Gwangmyeong Chapter were hospitalised.

 

At the same time, the KGEU RDA Chapter was also being attacked. The RDA (Rural Development Administration) is a research institute under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. After the directive on March 22 by the NOGAHA was issued, the new administrator had broken agreements with the union and refused any negotiations. A peaceful protest rally by the KGEU on May 25 in front of the RDA had been attacked by the riot police and hundreds of the union members had been arrested. On September 8, the 7 leaders of the KGEU RDA Chapter were dismissed. Prior to the ILO Asia Regional Meeting in Busan, Korea, the ICFTU, TUAC and GUFs joint mission had taken place from August 24 to 26. The mission had visited several work sites including the KGEU RDA Chapter. (See the report of the Mission on P.13) As usual, at 06:00 the riot police were deployed and the specially hired thugs and the security guards of the RDA broke into the union office. They used a power saw to break the doors. In 30 minutes, the union members were forcefully pulled out of the union office and thrown away outside the RDA.

 

The only province where the wave of the attacks on the KGEU local offices had not been pouring down yet was Gangwon-do(province). But it was very much likely to happen in a couple of days.

 

On September 29 (Friday), the first attack on a KGEU local office in Hwacheon-gun(county) in Gangwon-do started at 15:00. At first, the execution officials from the municipality tried to forcefully close down the union office in vain. The riot police were deployed and a mobile crane (excavator) was mobilized. Air mats were set up around the county hall. At 16:15, the second wave for the forceful closure started. The 4th floor of the county hall where the union office was located was full of the riot police. As soon as the riot police started to attack, the electricity was cut off. In an hour, the first barricade that the members from the KGEU and the solidarity organizations such as the KCTU, the Korean Peasant League and the Democratic Labor Party set up in front of the union office was broken down by the riot police. At last the riot police were pulled back at 21:20 and a meeting between the governor of the Hwacheon-gun and the KGEU Hwacheon Chapter was agreed to be held on October 2. But at dawn of October 2, the day when the meeting was supposed to be held, more than 350 of riot policemen were deployed and swept onto the union office. At 05:40, the union office was taken over and 3 KGEU members have been arrested.

 

Following the crack down of the KGEU Gangwon Hwacheon Chapter office, more attacks on the chapters of KGEU Gangwon Regional Branch were followed on October 3, which is a national holiday, the National Foundation Day of Korea.

 

The KGEU Chuncheon Chapter¡¯s office was taken over by the riot police and the execution officials at 06:20. More than 60 members from KGEU and solidarity organizations tried to protect the union office, but they couldn¡¯t reverse the wave of the attack which had started at 05:10. The riot police armed with fire-fighting dust, hammers, claw hammers and steel pipes swept into the union office from all directions. Windows and doors to the office were all broken.

 

Another attack on a KGEU local office took place in Samcheok. From 11:45 the riot police began to be deployed around the union office. At 14:20, the first barricade set up by union members was broken through by the riot police and 20 minutes later the union office was taken over. The riot police and the execution officials mobilized axes, claw hammers, hammers, fire hoses, a ladder truck and a fire engine to break into the union office, as usual now. 2 KGEU members were arrested.

During the attack, two people were injured by the police violence and hospitalized. One of them was Bro. LEE Sang Gyun, Chair of the KGEU Samcheok Chapter, who inhaled too much of fire-fighting dust. He recovered well but had to spend 6 days in a hospital. The other was a KGEU members¡¯ wife, who was also there to protect her husband and his colleagues with other KGEU members¡¯ family. She was pulled down by the riot police and injured on her head causing a concussion of her brain. Although shortly after being hospitalized she recovered consciousness and could leave the hospital on the next day, but still diagnosed that she needs to be carefully watched.

 

As of October 10, 2006, in total the local offices of 125 out of 251 KGEU chapters have been forcefully closed down. Of those 5 local offices were closed down even before September 22. 101 members from KGEU and solidarity organizations were arrested and several of them were severely beaten up and hospitalized. The arrested are expected to be prosecuted depending on the results of investigation by the police. The charge would be violation of clauses on special obstruction of performance of official duties on the Criminal Act. In cases of government employees, violation of Public Officials Acts would be included in their charges. (The list of the arrested is annexed(Annex 3).)

 

 

III. Government Obstruction and Interference in Activities of KGEU

 

Besides physically and literally shutting down local KGEU union offices, the Government has also been trying to block and intervene in any activities of the KGEU. The Government instructed local governments and agencies ¡°to obstruct KGEU¡¯s campaign against Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations as well as to intensify supervision of government employees to stop them from joining KGEU¡¯s rally on September 9.¡± (MOGAHA, Official Letter, Officials Organisation Supervision Team-819, September 7, 2006) The KGEU has been involved in anti-KorUS FTA campaign with other public sector unions like the Korean Teachers and Education Workers¡¯ Union (KTU) and the Korean Federation of Transportation, Public & Social Service Workers¡¯ Union (KPSU). The MOGAHA stated that KGEU members¡¯ leafleting, hanging banners about the KorUS FTA, publicizing and joining anti-KorUS FTA rallies are illegal, since these activities are violating Public Officials Acts and especially government employees are subject to laws and orders above all. The instruction was sent further down the line of the government structure, to all municipal governments and lower level organizations. Referring to the MOGAHA instruction, the Chungbuk-do (North Chungcheong province) directed its municipalities and agencies ¡°to thoroughly supervise and persuade government employees not to get involved in illegal activities such as collective expression of opposition to government policies.¡± (Chungbuk-do Province, Official Letter, General Affairs Department-11863, September 8, 2006)

 

Regarding the rally on September 9, the MOGAHA even threatened to dismiss government employees playing a leading role in the rally and apply disciplinary punishment to union members who participate in the rally, even though the rally was legally notified to the police in advance. Hundreds of KGEU members had to be stopped from joining the rally and forced to get back.

 

13 KGEU leaders are now under summons by the police for such union activities. Some of them were investigated just because they read aloud a resolution or made a speech at the rally on September 9. (The list of the KGEU leaders under investigation is annexed (Annex 4).)

 

And a KGEU vice president was also investigated by the police under the National Security Law simply because the KGEU issued a statement in August 17 on a military exercise that mobilizes government employees. The KGEU demanded that the military training be abolished because first of all, many government employees are mobilized in the ¡®Ulchi Focus Lens (UFL)¡¯ Exercise, causing much inconvenience to the population that government employees are supposed to give civil service to. More importantly, the military exercise is in fact a ¡®war game¡¯ against North Korea and may endanger peace and security in the Korean Peninsular. If the government thinks that the military exercise is not a ¡¯war game¡¯ and does not endanger peace and security in the peninsular then this is a matter of misinformation, which should not be covered by the National Security Law. If the demand for abolishment of the UFL is indeed violation of the National Security Law as the government claims, then the NSL is in violation of the Korean constitution. Furthermore, claiming that a statement is violating the NSL is repression on freedom of expression. The KGEU issues more than 300 statements a year, on the matters which are believed to be related to government employees. Moreover, more than 70 organizations and trade unions also issued statements on the UFL with the same demands as the KGEU. Out of these 70 organizations, the police and government have targeted only the KGEU. Therefore, we can only conclude that this ¡®investigation¡¯ on KGEU under the NSL is aimed at egregiously singling out and repressing the KGEU.

 

The government also claimed, ¡°One particularly egregious example was the intervention of the KGEU in the politically charged issue of relocating American military base from Seoul to Pyongtek, in alliance with the KCTU and radical student movement group. They entered into military facilities breaking through wire entanglements and attacking soldiers with bamboo spears. Military tents were destroyed and more than 30 people were wounded during the incident. Indeed, their violent behavior was an enormous shock to the nation and was severely criticized. Eleven government officials affiliated with the KGEU were arrested and two were taken into custody.¡± The claim is also purposeful manipulation. Workers voicing out opposition to government policies that are against the interests of the people should be considered as normal trade union activity. At that time, the KGEU together with KCTU and many other NGOs opposed the violent and unjust ¡®administrative execution¡¯ against the peasants living in Pyongtek. It was the government that used violence and inhumane methods against those who were demanding a stop to the ¡®administrative execution¡¯ and expansion of US military base. More than 600 trade unionists and NGO members were arrested and those who were seriously injured by police brutality and had to be hospitalized on that day were more than 200. 9 out of 11 KGEU members were arrested while being chased away by the military and the police. The other 2 were arrested while protesting against police violence. They were not using any violence. The prosecutors¡¯ office requested the court to issue detention warrants against 2 KGEU members, but the court refused it.

 

In the end of September, the MOGAHA held a meeting of vice mayors of Metropolitan Cities and vice governors of Provincial Governments. According to the meeting document, the government will ¡°constantly make efforts to encourage transformation into legal trade unions and to correct illegal practices for the early institutionalization of sound industrial relations in civil service.¡± The government claimed that it would take actions for administrative and financial disadvantages against the local governments which have failed to implement the MOGAHA¡¯s directive. The MOGAHA instructed ¡®the local governments to be cooperative to constantly promote transformation of illegal organizations into legal trade unions (voluntary withdrawal of membership), to conclude forceful closing down of illegal organizations¡¯ offices and to thoroughly monitor the offices closed down in order not to be used again.¡¯ (Incehon Metropolitan City, Official Letter, General Affairs Department-19041, October 4, 2006)

 

This instruction as well went down along the line of the government structure. Referring to the MOGAHA meeting and the directive from the Seoul Metropolitan City, the Jongro-gu municipality instructed heads of its departments ¡°to thoroughly implement the government instruction, which are 1/ voluntary withdrawal of membership from illegal organizations, 2/ prohibition of check off of union dues (including cancellation of CMS), 3/ thorough management after closing down of the KGEU office, 4/ transformation and establishment of legal trade unions.¡± (Seoul Jongro-gu Municipality, Official Letter, General Affairs Department-12289, October 13, 2006)

 



[1] Public Official Trade Union Act, Article 17 (Relations with Other Laws)

(2) Matters, not prescribed in this Act, concerning trade unions and labor relations adjustment for public officials, except those prescribed in paragraph (3), shall be subject to the conditions prescribed by the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act. [Remaining parts abridged]

 

(3) The provisions of the proviso of subparagraph 4 D of Article 2, Article 24, Article 29, Articles 36 through 46, Articles 51 through 57, Article 60 (1) and (5), Articles 62 through 65, Article 66 (2), Articles 69 through 80, the proviso of subparagraph 2 of Article 81, Articles 88 through 92, and Article 96 (1) 3 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act and Article 5 (1) and (2) of the Addenda of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act amended by Act No. 5310 shall not apply to trade unions under this Act.

[2] [Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act, Article 81.3] Refusal or delay of conclusion of a collective agreement or of collective bargaining, without justifiable reasons, with the representative of a trade union or a person who has been authorized by a trade union;

[3] [Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act, Article 81.4] domination of or interference with the formation or operation of a trade union by workers [remaining parts abridged]

  
 
 

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