Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2017, 11:39 GMT

Global Rights Index 2014 - Korea (Republic of)

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 19 May 2014
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, Global Rights Index 2014 - Korea (Republic of), 19 May 2014, available at: [accessed 25 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Country Rating: 5

  • No guarantee of rights

  • Countries with the rating of 5 are the worst countries in the world to work in. While the legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.

Korea Teacher Union de-registered: Because it allows dismissed and retired workers in its membership, the Korea Teacher Union (KTU) was informed by the Minister of Employment and Labour to amend its by-laws until 23 October 2013. The union was threatened to be de-registered, if it failed to make the amendments. On 26 September, teachers in Seoul protested against this threat.On 23 October the KTU was de-registered by the government and 76 teachers who were working as full-time union representatives were ordered to return to their schools on 24 October.

Infringement of the right to establish unions: The Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) is still not recognised as a legal trade union organisation. The government has refused to register the union three times. Since its founding, 137 union members have been dismissed for their trade union activity. In January 2013, KGEU President Kim, Jung-nam conducted a 16-day hunger strike before being hospitalised. The KGEU is now continuing a sit-it strike in front of the National Assembly. The KGEU President and Secretary General were recently dismissed on the grounds that they were leaders of an illegal organisation.

Mass dismissal of striking workers: The Korean Railway Workers' Union (KRWU) called a strike at the Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL) against privatisation. The union made five specific demands: revocation of the decision to establish the Suseo KTX corporation; stopping the issuance of corporate licenses by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; establishment of a railroad development subcommittee in the National Assembly Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee; establishment of an organisation for stakeholder discussions; and putting an end to anti-union discrimination.

KORAIL responded by dismissing about 6,748 workers who participated in the strike. This means that almost all the workers who went on strike lost their jobs. The KRWU filed an injunction with the Daejeon District Court to prevent the establishment of the Suseo KTX Corporation. Solidarity actions were held throughout the country together with civil society organisations against privatisation at central train stations in Cheonan, Jeonju, Suncheon, and Mokpo.

Prohibition of demonstration: In April 2013, police banned a protest rally by union workers of the Jinju Medical Centre against the closure of the hospital. It was argued that union members had previously used violence to deter members of the South Gyeongsang Provincial Council from entering the building.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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