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KCTU-KGEU Complaint to ILO on Korean Government Repression on KGEU (Oct. 24, 2006)  KCTU_KGEU_Complaint_2006-2(final).doc
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October 24th, 2006

Juan Somavia
International Labour Organisation

Dear Mr. Somavia,

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) extend warm greetings of appreciation for the role that the ILO has played in guaranteeing trade union rights for workers throughout the world.

We formally submit additional information on developments concerning already registered case 1865 based on new developments. We truly hope that by bringing to your attention the serious actions of the Korean government, there will be a renewed opportunity to bring us closer to recognition of basic labour rights for Korean government employees and affirm the international labour standards of the ILO.

Since the last submission of information, there have been new serious developments. As we wrote you in the last information, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) has been trying to systemically destroy the KGEU with harsh repressive actions such as Directive to Promote the Transformation of Illegal Organisations into Legal Trade Unions (Voluntary Withdrawal of Membership), which was issued at the very moment in March, 2006, when the ILO adopted the recommendations that request the Korean Government to refrain from any act of interference in the activities of the KGEU.

Furthermore, the MOGAHA instructed local governments and agencies that all the KGEU local offices at government buildings should be closed down by September 22. The MOGAHA warned that those who were adopting a lukewarm attitude would be audited and examined later on. At last, from September 22, the KGEU local offices nation wide were attacked by riot police and specially hired thugs armed with fire extinguishers, fire-fighting dust, hammers, claw hammers, hammer drills and power saws to forcefully close offices down. 125 KGEU 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 organization members were arrested and some of them were seriously injured.

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 KGEUs campaign against Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations as well as to intensify supervision of government employees to stop them from joining KGEUs rally on September 9. 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. 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. 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 at the rally on September 9. And a KGEU vice president was also investigated by the police under the National Security Law just because the KGEU issued a statement on a military exercise mobilizing government employees.

All of these actions completely negate international labour standards such as the ILO conventions and recommendations and do not conform at all to ILO recommendations to the Korean Government.

The report from the ICFTU/TUAC/GUFs Joint Mission to Korea from August 24 to 26, 2006, prior to the 14th ILO Asian Regional Meeting held in Busan, Korea, also pointed out the violation of government employees right to freedom of association with the forced closure of many union offices that has accelerated during the course of 2006. The Mission urged the Korean Government to honour and respect workers rights as embodied in the ILO core labour standards. It also urged ILO and OECD to take all the appropriate steps to assist trade unions in Korea in their legitimate claim to uphold workers rights in Korea: 1/ the International Labour Office should provide technical assistance in redrafting current legislation; 2/ the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association and the OECD ELSA Committee should send a mission to Korea to reinforce their respective monitoring process.

We hope that the findings and suggestions from the Mission are kept in mind and considered in the upcoming session of the Committee on Freedom of Association.

In thanking you for the work and role the ILO has played in the progress of trade union rights in Korea, we kindly ask for your further efforts in establishing the foundations for stable and democratic industrial relations in Korea through this submission of complaint to the Committee on Freedom of Association.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely Yours,


JO Jun Ho, President
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU)

KWON Seung Bok, President
Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU)


664, Gukhoe-daero, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea       07247

Tel.: +82-2-2631-1948 Fax.: +82-2-2631-1949 Email: interkgeu@gmail.com