Member area

Suppression of Labour Rights in the Republic of Korea and the fundamental values of the OECD

16 December 2016

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.

Sharing the letter with all OECD Ambassadors and with Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, John Evans calls upon “the OECD to take all appropriate steps so that the Organisation can effectively help the Korean people and set the foundation for a sustainable and inclusive growth model, based on rule of law and the observance of internationally recognised standards”.

TUAC firmly believes that the OECD has a collective responsibility to ensure that all member and candidate countries adhere to and observe the fundamental values of the Organisation.


18/11/2016 | Global Unions solidarity mission to Korea: the need for an inclusive and sustainable growth model

08/07/2016| TUAC Letter to the OECD Secretary General: Regression of trade union rights in Korea presents a challenge to the credibility of the OECD

07/06/2016| 20th Anniversary of Korean OECD Membership overshadowed by labour rights and freedom of assembly violations

06/04/2016| Upholding Labour Rights in Korea in an OECD context

23/11/2015| TUAC condemns Korean Government Crackdown on Unions