The following is the speech paper by Ms. JIN Young-Ok, Vice-President of KCTU
during the founding congress of ITUC in Vienna,
I would like to extend warm greetings of
solidarity on behalf of more than 15 million workers in South Korea on this
First of all, I would like to take this opportunity
to express our appreciation for your consistent interest and solidarity for the
improvement of the labor right situation and calling for an end to trade union
repression in South Korea. We recognize the significant role the international
community such as the ILO plays in pressuring for improvement of labor
standards. It is as a result of this pressure and the solidarity provided by
everyone of you that we, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions are here at
this Founding Congress. So we hope that ITUC can continue to organize mutual
support and solidarity amongst its members to challenge the neo liberal
globalization. We the KCTU pledge to be part of this challenge utilizing our
past experiences and mobilizing our strength..
Trade union and human
rights are threatened by neoliberal globalization. The WTO and international
financial institutions such as the IMF have already deprived thousands of
workers and their families many things such as rights to access to clean water,
public services, quality health care, and decent work. The DOHA development
agenda has already failed. Even its proclaimed objective to promote
"development" in the South is no longer a reality. So, we do not want the WTO or
an FTA. We want a labor friendly and equal globalization based on new
internationalism. In this process, the ILO's role should be more emphasized and
be an effective measure to defend and promote international labor standards and
the last resort for defending trade union rights.
In spite of the
significance of the ILO, I would to like to denounce any government that
neglects the authority and legal capacity of the ILO. The Committee on the
Freedom of Association of the ILO has made 13 recommendations to the South
Korean government to bring labor laws and industrial relations systems in line
with international standards. However, the government has never implemented
these recommendations legally and practically. Instead, the government has
chosen to intensify trade union rights repression.
Even during the ILO
Asian Regional Meeting which was held in Busan, South Korea this year, the
government forcibly closed the local union offices of the Korean Government
Employees Union. The government continued its efforts to systematically destroy
the KGEU by launching a nation-wide raid of KGEU local union offices on
In addition, on September 11, the South Korean government
decided to postpone union pluralism at the enterprise level for another three
years under the excuse of needing a transition period and avoiding social
disruption. However, it should be noted that the government has postponed union
pluralism for the past ten years using the same excuse. How long does South
Korean workers need a transition period Currently, irregular workers
comprise more than 60% of the entire work force. The majority are women workers.
The government has failed to guarantee the fundamental basic labor rights for
irregular workers. They are often fired immediately after they exercise their
right to organize and form a trade union. So, the fight for irregular workers is
also the fight for women’s rights..
Yesterday, the Vice President of the
Australian Trade Union Congress stated that the Australian government was the
worst in the first world at least. In this light, I would like to say that the
South Korean government is the worst government in the OECD.
there are currently 77 members of the KCTU that are imprisoned due to trade
union activities. The majority are construction workers and irregular workers.
On July 16 Ha Joong Keun, a member of the Korean Federation of Construction
Industry Trade Unions was severely beaten to death by several riot police during
This is Ha Joong Keun. What more can be said This is the
reality in South Korea.
We recognize that trade union repression is not
unique to South Korea. The attack on workers around the world by governments and
corporate globalization is increasing.
Trade unionists are being killed in
Colombia and in the Philippines. Trade unionist rights are being repressed in
Zimbabwe and in Cambodia. And in Australia the right to collective bargaining is
disappearing. I would like to add South Korea on this list for its failure to
meet international labor standards and brutal repression of trade union
Yesterday, ILO Director General Juan Somavia stated that
organizers in danger can call him and he would respond immediately.
Director General Juan Somavia,
South Korean workers are calling
KGEU members, construction workers, and millions of irregular
workers are calling you. They are waiting for your response.
the KCTU will launch a General Strike on November 15 to stop trade union
repression and ensure basic labor rights in South Korea. I would like to
reiterate a traditional labor slogan that we know so well, “An injury to one is
an injury to all.” South Korean workers are calling for your support and
solidarity again on November 15.
Lets fight together. Lets unite through