The Korea Herald


ILO requests details on Trade Union Act

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : May 31, 2024 - 14:38

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The International Labour Organization The International Labour Organization

A committee under the International Labour Organization recently requested the South Korean government to provide details on a planned amendment to the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act.

The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations under the United Nations agency aiming to advance social and economic justice by setting international labor standards, said Tuesday that it had filed a "direct request" with the Korean government in March for further information.

Specifically, the committee asked for details regarding the pending amendment, which would include platform workers, including deputy drivers, taxi drivers, webtoon and web novel writers, and delivery riders, as workers. Currently, many platform companies in Korea claim the people working for them are all "freelancers" and "self-employed" and do not recognize them as workers.

Direct requests involve technical questions or requests for further information.

After reviewing the information, the committee will publish an "observation” and express its opinions on compliance. The observation report is expected to be published in February 2025.

The latest request was revealed via the results of the review of government reports and submissions from labor unions on the implication of the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention and ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining, published by the ILO's Committee of Experts on its website Tuesday.

The Ministry of Labor and Employment said, “The ILO has indeed requested additional information from the government; however, it is just a routine process,” stressing that it does not in itself mean that there is a problem with the bills. “We have faithfully implemented the conventions.”

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the more militant of the nation’s two largest umbrella labor unions, said, “As a member country that joined Conventions 87 and 98, the government has to make an effort to follow what has been asked of by the ILO.”

Separately, the KCTU also urged the Korean government to accept the “yellow envelope law,” a pro-labor bill that was vetoed by the president. The bill could be revived and railroaded by the main opposition during the current Assembly, whose four-year term kicked-off Thursday.

The labor bill, aimed at limiting companies from making claims for damages over labor union disputes, passed through the opposition-controlled parliament in November 2023. However, President Yoon Suk Yeol vetoed a pro-labor bill in December 2023.

Critics argue that it would make it difficult for employers to file complaints over illegal strikes and other actions by their workers and exempt laborers from liability for participating in illegal actions.

The ILO's Committee of Experts is an independent body composed of 20 high-level national and international legal experts who are charged with examining the application of ILO Conventions, Protocols, and Recommendations by ILO Member States.