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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 October 22 - 29  > Japanese union activists learn about South Korean labor movement
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2019 October 22 - 29 TOP3 [LABOR]

Japanese union activists learn about South Korean labor movement

October 28, 2019

The People’s Spring Struggle Joint Committee consisting of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and independent unions on October 24 in Tokyo held a gathering to which they invited Lee Jooho, chief of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) policy division, as a guest lecturer.

The KCTU, one of the major national trade union centers in South Korea, was established in November 1995 by independent and democratic unions. It is mainly composed of industrial unions and has a membership of over one million, of which 30% are non-regular workers.

Introducing the KCTU to Japanese union activists, Lee said that the union played a leading role in the 2016-17 “candlelight revolution” which succeeded in ousting scandal-ridden President Park Geun-hye. He went on to say that in the 2017 presidential election, the KCTU worked to increase public support for its demands, “Finish the Park-led plutocratic regime!” “Create an equal society which respects labor!” He added that with these efforts, the KCTU gained 200,000 new members.

Lee said that a focus in the current KCTU struggle is to protect workers’ basic labor rights and the existing labor laws; eliminate non-regular jobs; improve social safety nets; and push the government to reform the chaebol (family-run conglomerates) structure and establish worker-oriented industrial policies.

The KCTU officer moved on to the issue of a drastic minimum wage hike. He said that although the minimum wage in South Korea went up by double digits for two years in a row, this is far short of eliminating inequalities. He added that the KCTU is campaigning to achieve an immediate minimum wage increase to 10,000 won (1,000 yen) per hour by claiming that a drastic hike is essential to eliminate disparities and boost South Korea’s economy.

Lee in conclusion stressed that to organize more workers and build labor-management relations beyond individual corporate frameworks will lay a solid foundation for redressing the economic imbalances and creating an equal society.
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