The Korea Herald


90% of new labor unions unaffiliated


Published : July 11, 2011 - 19:16

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For ten days since the multiple-trade-union law took effect on July 1, 167 new unions have been formed, with about 90 percent of them not joining either of the umbrella unions, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions.

Under the revised labor law, employees can freely set up labor unions no matter how many there are at a work site. The measure is expected to guarantee worker’s freedom of association on a larger level and lead to expand union membership, which stood at around 10 percent last year.

About 82 percent of new unions broke away from the KCTC and FKTU, and only 17 unions are connected to the two major unions.

Most of the new unions are small, with about 70 percent of them at small companies hiring under 300 employees. Fifty four percent are composed of only 10 percent of the total employees at a work site.

Only 22 unions have half of the employees of a company as their members. The unions with at least half of total union members at a company can exercise a bargaining right as the representative of multiple unions.

The unions which submitted registrations for forming new unions include regional subway offices in Incheon and Daegu. They plan to join the nationwide railway union led by the Seoul metro union later. A couple of teacher’s unions are forming a single union. Employees in service sectors such as hospitals and hotels are reportedly preparing to launch their own unions.

Considering that about 82 percent of new unions are breakaway groups from the two umbrella unions, the focus of labor movement is expected to shift to the third umbrella union with backing from new trade unions.

The new trend under the revised labor law also indicates dissatisfaction from union members of two major umbrella unions.

By Lee Woo-young (