Release HAN Sang-Kyun Unconditionally!
Respect the Fundamental Trade Union Rights!
Hands off Our Right to Strike!
Stop Retrogressive Labour Policies!
Stop Repression of Labour! Stop Violence against People!
Statement of the ITUC - Asia Pacific
We, the ITUC - Asia Pacific representing effectively 60 million workers from 34 countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific, in deploring the regression of the labour situation in Korea, strongly condemn the Korean government for its unilateral retrogressive revision of labour laws, non-observance of internationally recognised human and workers' rights, and labour repression with excessive violence.
The current labour polices pursued by the Korean government will only exacerbate the sufferings of workers and their families by increasing precarious work, reducing wages, and aggravating working conditions as well as employment insecurity. Further, it should be denounced as an ignoble act that the government has instigated social tension and division among workers as well as between generations by misleading and exaggerating information to pursue the revision.
We also deeply deplore the excessive violence of the Korean authorities to suppress trade unions and even the general public supporting unions for social justice and democracy. We strongly condemn the recent crackdown of the Korean government on trade unions and the detention of Brother HAN Sang-Kyun, the KCTU President, under various forced charges.
We recall that the Constitution of Korea clearly enshrines the three basic workers' rights including the right to strike. However, the Korean government has illegalised and suppressed with violence collective actions legitimately decided by worker. Moreover, unreasonably restrictive civil and penal codes have constrained workers from exercising their right to collective action by penalising them and putting them in heavy financial burden.
It is the workers in Korea who have been the driving force behind today's social economic development as well as democracy in Korea. Observance of human and workers' rights is a prerequisite for any democratic, inclusive, sustainable and equitable country.
Korea is one of the OECD Member States. There must be prudence in its legislation process, not by using unilateral force but through due consultation with social partners based on deep mutual trust. This is regretfully missing, especially in circumstances where leaders of workers' organisations are easily threatened by the Korean authorities.
The intention of the government to relax the regulation is, reportedly, to boost the competitiveness of the Korean economy by giving more power to employers in layoffs, deciding retrenchment compensation, and expanding fixed term, temporary and dispatch work at will. Korea will never buoy up by creating massive precarious work. On the contrary, income disparity and increase in working poor will never contribute to sustainable economic development as studies of the OECD and the IMF have proven.
Therefore, on behalf of our 60 million workers, we strongly urge the Korean government as follows:
-To release Mr. HAN Sang-Kyun, President of the KCTU, unconditionally;
-To stop retrogressive labour polices immediately, including the attempts to expand precarious jobs, the relaxation of requirements for dismissals, the unilateral change of employment rules and extension of working hours, etc.;
-To fully respect human and fundamental workers' rights;
-To hands off our right to strike and abolish any restrictive measures against exercising the right; and
-To stop oppression of and violence against workers, trade unions and the people in support of the labour.
Until our demands are fully realised, we will strengthen our solidarity and support to our sisters and brothers of the Korean Trade Union Movement and their all-out struggle to protect fundamental workers' rights and democracy in Korea.
We appeal to the Korean working people to support the struggle of the FKTU and the KCTU. They are courageously struggling on your behalf, for the future of Korea.
We appeal to the international trade union community to support the struggle of the working people of Korea.
16 December 2015 Seoul, Korea