LRN Backs Korean Workers ILO Complaint
Labor Rights Now strongly backed a complaint to the International Labor Organization detailing worker rights
violations in South Korea. The Korean government has criminalized unions by accusing irregular workers seeking labor representation of
"obstruction of business." This has led to the jailing of union leaders.
The Korean Metalworkers' Federation filed the ILO complaint along with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the International
Metalworkers Federation (IMF). The Korean government's failure to protect and enforce worker rights is documented in the charge, including rights'
violations occurring at Hyundai Motors plants in Ulsan, Asan, and Jeonju, as well as at Hynix/Magnachip, Kiryung Electronics, and KM&I.
"Korean workers years ago did battle with the military government over worker rights abuses and, sadly, subsequent governments don't
seem to understand that the repression of workers and unions has no place in a democracy," said Labor Rights Now President Don Stillman.
The IMF News, a publication of the International Metalworkers' Federation, said the compaint details how precarious workers in disguised
employment relationships who try to form and join unions are subject to dismissal. Employers also use compensation suits to threaten union members
into withdrawing from the union and to punish those who do not.
The pattern at Hyundai Motors Corporation is:
1. Core union activists are dismissed;
2. They seek reinstatement and often return to the factory to meet with the union;
3. The employer seeks an court injunction to keep the dismissed workers away, even when labor relations authorities have found the dismissals to be
4. The company hires security guards who physically assault dismissed workers trying to enter the factory.
"We urge the immediate release of Choi Byeong-seung, leader of the Ulsan Irregular Workers' Union," Stillman said. The Labor Rights
Now president also said American workers expected the Korean government to release Kwon Sujeong, Oh Ji Hwan, and Kim Jun-Gyoall union officials
at Hyundai Motors who were jailed in July, 2006.
"American workers strongly support the KMWF, the KCTU, and the IMF on this complaint and hope that the International Labor Organization
will fully investigate the violations of the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in the breach of ILO Conventions 87 and 98,"