New Year's Message from the President of the FKTU
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
An eventful year has passed and a new one, the Year of the Sheep, has dawned.
Numerous tragic events shocked the nation last year, leaving an indelible scar on the people of Korea. Especially, trade union movement underwent severe ordeals. Public sector workers had to suffer from sharp wage cuts and worsening working conditions. The government has shifted the responsibility for discrimination onto regular workers, citing that regular workers have been overprotected. The root cause of discrimination against precarious workers is the employers' misuse of the law on fixed-term workers. They continue to attempt to terminate the contracts of fixed-term workers before the agreed end date in order to avoid their obligation to employ fixed-term workers as regular workers. In order to resolve the issue, the use of precarious workers for constant and continuous work should not be allowed. Workers in special employment arrangement should be recognized as workers. The coverage of social insurances should be expanded to precarious workers.
The controversy over the scope of the normal wage still remains unsolved due to the obscure Supreme Court ruling. We should make concerted efforts for periodic bonus to be included in the scope of the normal wage so that the value of labour can be duly recognized.
Despite mounting oppression against workers by the regime and the capital, the FKTU laid the foundation for the unity and solidarity of trade union movement by successfully achieving unification with the Korea's third Confederation. Korean trade union movement has gained a significant momentum for establishing a strong unified national confederation.
The FKTU has recently made an agreement to participate in social dialogue on the principles and directions for labour market structural reforms after long and careful consideration. The decision is an expression of the FKTU's strong will to block the government's unilateral move and find a possible agreement on major labour issues as a responsible trade union organization.
Korea's democratization out of the shadow of the dictatorship and “the Miracle on the Han River” were attributed to workers' extreme hardships and sacrifice. However, workers can no longer be the victims of economic crisis. The FKTU will step up fight against the anti-union offensive by the government and the capital. We will continue to make strenuous efforts for the protection of workers' rights and job security. Our priorities for the year 2015 include further creation of decent jobs; stricter requirements for lay-offs; reduction of precarious work and elimination of discrimination; full protection of fundamental workers' rights; higher minimum wage; expansion of general welfare and social safety nets; extension of retirement age in accordance with the corresponding pension eligibility ages; expansion of the scope of normal wage; reduction of actual working hours; reforms of income distribution structure and alleviation of social polarization; economic democratization and social integration; promotion of social dialogue; organizing the unorganized including precarious workers, youths and migrants, etc.
I am firmly committed to keeping our jobs and accomplishing our goals. I will further strive to protect our jobs and resolve pending issues.
Let's make a difference this year so that our lives can be filled with joy and happiness.
Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU)