Korean union official urges OECD to press Seoul Government on workers' rights  National Assembly passes law on teachers rights    

 A senior official of the South Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) recently met with a number of OECD member country delegations and officials of the Paris-based OECD secretariat to urge them to renew presssure on the Seoul government to respect trade unionists' rights. 

 Mr Yoon Young-mo, who heads the international section of the KCTU, conferred at OECD on December 8 and 9 following his attendance at the annual conference of the French CFDT union in Lille.  While in Paris he also had meetings with TUAC officials. 

 In an interview with the French news agency Agence France Presse, Mr. Yoon said the Korean authorities had illegally arrested 55 KCTU members in a "cynical attempt to weaken the trade unions and avoid entering into any social dialogue".   Regarding the Korean economic situation, he said it was a mistake to think the crisis was over because reforms being undertaken in the nation's conglomerates -- known as chaebols -- risked not being carried through because business would consider the social costs to be too high and abandon the reforms. 

 The KCTU has 500 000 members and is so far unrecognised by the Korean government despite undertakings to reverse this situation.  The other main union confederation -- the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), with a membership of 800 000, is officially recognised. The two trade union centres have  worked closely over the Christmas period on a common stance on the issues of union rights and the unemployment crisis. On December 29, the FKTU organised a rally outside parliament in support of its demands. 

 Mr. Yoon told the AFP that the OECD had a "moral responsibility publicly to reiterate its concern about the situation of trade unionists" in Korea.  OECD Secretary-General Donald Johnston and TUAC publicly intervened on behalf of trade unionist rights in Korea  in 1997 and 1998.  The Asian country joined the OECD in December 1996, becoming the 29th member of the Paris-based think tank of advanced industrialised countries. 

  In the meantime, on 6 January 1999 , the National Assembly  approved a bill on the legal recognition of the teachers' union "Chunkyojo". The TUAC has welcomed this as an important step in bringing about the end of the long standing ban on the union which would also facilitate legalisation of the KCTU.  This law is due to come into effect on 1st July 1999. 

To read the Press release click here.  

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