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[IWS] ILO: S. KOREA: STATEMENT OF WORKERS GROUP ON THE UNLAWFUL DEREGISTRATION OF THE KOREAN TEACHERS AND EDUCATION WORKERS UNION (KTU) [30 October 2013]
IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau
International Labour Organization (ILO)
STATEMENT OF WORKERS GROUP ON THE UNLAWFUL DEREGISTRATION OF THE KOREAN TEACHERS AND EDUCATION WORKERS UNION (KTU) [30 October 2013]
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Employment and Labour, on the orders of the Ministry of
Education, Science and Technology, threatened to cancel the registration of the Korean
Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) if it did not amend its constitution in line
with Korean law. The government subsequently set a deadline of 23 October 2013, which it
observed. On 24 October, the legal status of the KTU was withdrawn.
The KTU constitution allowed dismissed workers to remain members of the union. Article
2(4)(d) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Adjustment Act (TULRAA) provides that
an organization shall not be regarded as a trade union...where those who are not workers are
allowed to join the organization.” Article 23(1) of the Act also provides that non-union
(dismissed) members are ineligible to hold trade union office. The ILO Committee on
Freedom of Association (CFA) has repeatedly criticized these provisions, reiterating that,
"[I]t urged the Government to repeal the provisions prohibiting dismissed and unemployed
workers from keeping their union membership and making non-union members ineligible to
stand for trade union office… Noting with regret that the Government has not repealed these
provisions, the Committee once again urges the Government to do so [.]" See, ILO CFA Case
No. 1865 (Korea), Report No 363, March 2012 at para. 126.
Around 40 members of KTU were dismissed during the previous government for their
activities, including expressing their opinion on the governments’ education policy and/or for
donations to progressive political parties. These workers, whose dismissals are also illegal
under international law, were considered members of the KTU.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Education International (EI) twice
requested an urgent intervention from the ILO in this case. The ILO responded both times.
However, the government has flatly refused to heed the interventions of the Director General,
or the repeated recommendations of the Committee on Freedom of Association.
The Workers’ Group denounces in the strongest possible terms the government’s decision.
The government must respect the union’s right to associate, and to determine its own
membership, without interference from the authorities. The new Park Administration has
demonstrated in short order its anti-union credentials by attacking the fundamental rights of
teachers. The Workers Group call on all governments and employers to urgently press the
government to respect its commitments under international law and restore the KTU’s legal
The Workers’ Group also denounces the government’s recent refusal to register (for the 4th
time) the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) - for the exactly same reasons it
deregistered the KTU. Like the KTU, the Office has appealed to the government to register
the union, as has the Committee on Freedom of Association. The Park Administration has
completely ignored the ILO.
Given these and many other serious violations, as well as the government’s continued failure
to bring its labour laws into compliance with international standards, the Workers’ Group
also calls on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to reinstate
urgently its monitoring of the labour rights situation in the country. It is clear that the
government has failed to fulfil its commitment, made upon its entry to the OECD in 1996, “to
reform existing laws on industrial relations in line with internationally accepted standards,
including those concerning basic rights such as freedom of association and collective
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