Speech for 106th Session of the ILC
Juyoung KIM (Workers’ Delegate, Republic of Korea)
Morning sitting of Tue 13 June 2017
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Honorable Mr. President Luis Ernesto Caries Rudy, Director-General Mr. Guy Ryder, distinguished delegates and guests, It is a great pleasure for me to speak at the 106th session of the ILC on behalf of 18 million Korean workers.
I believe that the innovative initiatives put forward by the Director-General are of the utmost importance at this critical moment towards the ILO’s centenary in 2019. Since the “Green Centenary Initiative” was suggested in 2013, the ILO has continued to stress the importance of environmental sustainability and just transition. Especially, I entirely agree that respective governments should create an enabling environment in which workers’ and employers’ organizations can fully participate in the national development and climate change strategies in order to make just transition a reality.
Having said that, I’d like to reiterate the fact that labour should always be placed at the heart of just transition. While climate change can provide new opportunities, workers can be most seriously affected by the phenomenan. Especially, vulnerable workforce including precarious workers, low-waged workers, women and youths are not capable of responding properly to the drastic change in employment resulting from climate change.
In order to minimize the adverse impact on such workers, trade unions should be actively involved in designing climate change policies on an equal footing. By doing so, we will be able to avoid wrong policies in the past by which climate change was only used as a basis of market expansion.
I also would like to highlight the fact that concerted efforts to resolve current labour issues should be the starting point for just transition. New jobs created in the climate of infringed workers’ rights, low wages, insecure employment, poor working conditions and weak social safety nets can never be decent. I
Especially, Korean workers have suffered a lot by unilateral performance-based wage system, guidelines on easier dismissals, ban on wage payment to full-time union officials, to name a few. Serious concerns have been raised from the international community over the low ratification of ILO core conventions and insufficient implementation of ratified conventions. Under such circumstances, it was impossible to expect the creation of green jobs with full guarantee of fundamental workers’ rights.
However, Republic of Korea has seen a historic and remarkable turning point recently. Korean people and workers were successful in creating a new democratic government by a series of candlit vigils and continued demands for democratization. In the course of the democratization process, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) concluded a policy agreement with the current government with the aim of building a society in which workers are fairly treated without being discriminated against. It was a decisive resolution to achieve sustainable and balanced development as well as social integration of the Republic of Korea.
Now, the Korean government which was created with the high expectations of people and workers should be strongly committed to the agreement. By doing so, it should effectively respond to the challenges of climate change and industry 4.0 with a focus on the linkage between the Green Centenary Initiative and the Future of Work Initiative. It should take the lead in achieving a just transition by fully promoting the decent work agenda. Especially, the pledges should be implemented without fail, which include the withdrawal of illegal guidelines, the raise of the minimum wage, the reduction of working hours, the realization of economic democratization, the reduction of non-regular workers, and the ratification of the ILO core conventions on forced labour as well as the freedom of association and collective bargaining.
This is the essential prerequisite for Korean workers, as equal social partners, to fully join the national efforts for just transition. We believe that this is the way to expedite the achievement of social justice, core value of the ILO, ahead of its centenary. Thank you.