The Korea Herald


Labor minister gives union ultimatum on reform talks

By 윤민식

Published : Aug. 20, 2015 - 18:26

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Labor Minister Lee Ki-kwon reiterated calls on the nation’s largest trade union to return to the negotiating table to discuss labor market reforms, vowing to push for the reforms without the union if it does not return to the three-way dialogue by next Wednesday.

“Considering the schedule to set a budget and present a bill to the National Assembly, the talks cannot be delayed any longer,” Lee told reporters Wednesday in central Seoul, urging the Federation of Korean Trade Unions to make a “grand” decision to return to the three-way dialogue among labor, management and government representatives.

Lee Ki-kwon (Yonhap) Lee Ki-kwon (Yonhap)

“The trade union, representing only 10 percent of all salaried workers in Korea, should go beyond protecting its self-interests for the sake of the other 90 percent, the irregular workers and young job seekers,” Lee said, expressing disappointment about the collapse of Tuesday’s union meeting.

On Tuesday, the nation‘s largest labor union called a meeting to decide whether to return to the long-stalled trilateral negotiations on labor market reforms, but it ended in failure due to vocal opposition from some unionists.

Some 100 members of the labor union blockaded the conference room by staging a sit-in, expressing concerns over the union leaders’ alleged decision to return to the trilateral talks that could be seen as supporting the government’s plan for “easier layoffs and lower wages for workers.”

The trade union is scheduled to hold another meeting next Wednesday to decide whether to return to the talks.

By Ock Hyun-ju