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Labor advocates boycott council for social dialogue, prevent vote from going ahead

A presidential council for social dialogue has been crippled due to boycotts by some of its members representing labor, halting discussion on a number of agenda items.

The Economic, Social and Labor Council said Thursday that the mandates of four of its committees would expire this month.

The committees responsible for improving the social safety net and for ensuring industrial safety and health will stop operating July 11 and 16, respectively. The other two committees, one responsible for improving rules and practices in labor-management relations and the other for digital transformation and the future of labor, will stop operating July 19. 


The plenary committee of the ESLC, which has the right to extend the terms of the other committees, has not been functioning properly because three members -- those representing represent young workers, female workers and irregular workers -- have refused to attend meetings since early March.

According to the Act on the Economic, Social and Labor Council, the plenary committee can vote only if at least half of its members representing workers, management and government are present. Currently, there are four labor members.

They are boycotting the meetings because they do not want the plenary committee to ratify an agreement reached in February to expand the flextime work system.

In an effort to keep the four committees running and to propose the launch of five more, the ESLC sought to convene a plenary committee meeting Thursday but could not because the three members were not present.

With the ESLC sitting idle for months, the Moon Jae-in administration is facing difficulty in fulfilling its pledges to reduce social polarization and resolve other social issues through dialogue and compromise.

The ESLC said in a statement Thursday that it had asked the three missing members to indicate whether they would attend the plenary committee meeting and take part in the vote regarding flextime work.

The plenary committee meeting was postponed because the three members didn’t show up, the ESLC said.

The ELSC said it would try to normalize social dialogue by taking steps to amend the ELSC law to improve the voting system.

By Kim So-hyun (