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  • Workplace-level union pluralism sees no big confusion since its implementation (LABOR TODAY 776)
DATE: 2011-08-05 VIEW: 377
DOWNLOAD: labor776(kor).hwp LABOR776.doc
For one month, 322 unions have been set up and 74.5 percent of them are those separated from the two umbrella organizations

During the whole month in July, a total of 322 trade unions have submitted certification applications as union pluralism is allowed at workplace since July 1 and on-average application submissions per day have dropped significantly to below 10. Also, 74.5 percent of the unions newly established are those separated from the two umbrella organizations and a majority of the unions newly set up are turned out to be independent unions.

The Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) released a paper on August 1 on the current progress of the implementation of the single bargaining channel system since multiple unions have been allowed at workplace. According to the paper, as of July 31, 322 unions submitted certification applications and unions established per day were 27.8 on average in the first 10 days of the month, which dropped sharply to 8.6 in the last 10 days.

By umbrella group, unions separated from the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) were 120 (37.3%) and 90 (28.0%) respectively, while 46 unions (14.3%) were established at workplaces that had had no unions until then. Out of the unions newly established in July, only 45 (14.0%) chose an umbrella group and the rest 277 (86.0%) remained independent.

By size, workplaces with fewer than 300 employees took up 229 as those with fewer than 100 employees were 120 and those with 100-300 were 109. Worksites with over 1,000 employees marked 42.

By industry, 164 unions (50.9%) were established in taxi and bus industry, out of which only 10 decided to be affiliated to umbrella organizations and the rest 154 applied for union certification as independent. Unions in other industries such as manufacturing, public services and financial services recorded 158 (49.1%). By the size of union members, 78 unions (28.3%) took up more than half of the total unionized workers at their workplaces and 61 unions (19.6%) took account of the majority of the total workers at the workplace. However, unions with less than 10 percent of the total employees recorded 133 (42.6%), taking the lion’s share.

Some 108 unions (33.5%) witnessed their membership increased compared to when they first started but 96 (34.8%) out of the existing unions witnessed a membership decline since new trade unions were set up. Unlike what was expected, unions which started with only a small number of members such as KEC (semi-conductor company), Korea Western Power (power generation company), and SMRT (Seoul Metro) expanded their membership by absorbing members of the existing unions, thus, increasing their influence.

Out of the 287 companies that are closely monitored by the Ministry of Employment and Labor, where bargaining is going on, 228 (79.4%) are in the process of singularizing the bargaining channel. Out of them, 96 (83.5 %) belong to the FKTU and 42 (67.7 %) belong to the KCTU.

Even though the number of unions newly established has been on the rise since the implementation of the law on the union pluralism, MOEL forecasts that labor disputes or labor-labor conflicts will not be as ripen as expected. In addition, as the process for coming up with single bargaining channel is going smoothly, labor relations on the field will become stable after a certain period of time.
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