Member area

Global Unions solidarity mission to Korea: the need for an inclusive and sustainable growth model

10 April 2017

In a letter sent to Hwang Kyo-ahn, prime minister and acting president of Republic of Korea, John Evans, TUAC General Secretary, reinstated the international labour movement’s profound concerns about the failure of the Republic of Korea to uphold freedom of assembly and fundamental labour rights and in particular concerning the sentence of Mr Han Sang-guyen, President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), affiliated to TUAC, alongside the FKTU, to three years in prison for charges related to the legitimate exercise of his trade union activities.

The case of Mr Han is not isolated. Over a dozen of Korean trade union members are detained on similar charges. Government repression of trade unions in Korea is a reality. It is the manifestation of serious failures by the Korean government and public institutions to uphold freedom of peaceful assembly but also freedom of association and, more broadly, of fundamental labour rights, as shown by the many cases brought against Korea at the ILO. Repression against trade unions is taking place in a context of deep-rooted income inequality in the Korean society– one of the highest in the OECD area, of severe labour market imbalances and job precarity – over 40% of Koreans are “non-regular” workers – and as of recently of a deep political crisis.