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New Year's Message from the President of the FKTU

The Year of the Horse has just dawned. I wish you a Happy New Year and all the best in your family and workplace.

We all start every year with reflecting on the past and anticipating a new year full of hope. Regrettably however, we are constantly surrounded by tough environment, politically, economically and socially. We were awfully shocked to witness the government's raid on the headquarters of a trade union national center mobilizing heavily-armed special police at the end of the last year, the first-ever of its kind. Labor-government relationships have further worsened due to the unprecedented hard-line stance of the government which completely ignores communication with labor and continues to insist its own 'principle' rather than being engaged in dialogue and negotiations.

Political parties were only embroiled in political strife and wasted their time for the whole year, pushing aside important labor legislation. Their pledges on economic democratization have just fizzled out in the face of strong opposition from the business circles. The back-scratching alliance between the government and business has indiscriminately pursed their own interest, paying no attention to the pains of workers and people who are suffering from long working hours, indiscreet lay-offs and job insecurity, discrimination against non-regular workers and weak social safety nets.

Despite the tough situations, some achievements were made last year owing to your strong solidarity and commitment, which included the legislation on mandatory retirement age at 60, the expansion of union activities through the adjustment of the paid time-off limit and the modification of Labor Ministry's manual, the raise of minimum wage, etc.

However, we should not be complacent with the achievements. We must be vigilant and prepared in order to achieve the urgent tasks ahead of us including the revision of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act (TULRAA) which is the main culprit of Korea's industrial conflicts and confrontation.

We will do our best to make the world a better place to live with stronger solidarity and struggles based on the dauntless sprit of the FKTU. We will make every effort to build workplaces in which all workers can enjoy full respect, job security and safe environment.

To that end, our struggles will be focused on the revision of the TULRAA, the strict regulation of lay-offs, the achievement of the highest level of job security, the reduction of working hours and the reform of minimum wage.

We shall spare no pains to extend storing solidarity and support to vulnerable workers suffering from discrimination. Especially, we will firmly stand up to any attempts by the government power and capital who have trampled on democracy, oppressed workers' fundamental rights and driven workers' and people's lives to the edge of the cliff.

Once again, I wish you all a peaceful and happy new year. Thank you very much.

January 2014

Jin-kook MOON

President

Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU)

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