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Events 2018


KDGW-FES International Conference on "Minimum Wage System: The experience of Germany and Korea" (Seoul, 7 to 10 November, 2018)

Currently there is a very intensive debate about South Korean government's initiative on inclusive growth. The raise of minimum wage is understood as one of the pillar for this policy approach. In this context, the Korean-German Academy of Economics and Management (KDGW) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office co-hosted an International Conference on "Minimum Wage System: The experience of Germany and Korea" on Novemer 9th in Seoul.

The aim of this conference was to exchange experiences between Germany and South Korea with respect to the minimum wage system and to promote the idea of a social dialogue based system. Dr. Robby Riedel (Head of Market Regulation and Distribution Division, German Confederation of Trade Unions) has introduced the socio-economic context and legal basis of the German minimum wage system, Mr. Frederic Hüttenhoff (Researcher, Institute for Work, Skills and Training, University of Dusiburg-Essen) has presented how the minimum wage in Germany is determined, Dr. Toralf Pusch (Researcher, Institute of Economic and Social Research, Hans-Böckler-Stiftung) has analyzed the impacts of minimum wage on the German labour market, and Mr. Daniel Kostzer (Senior Regional Specialist on Wage, ILO Bangkok) has linked the minimum wage issue with the global context.

The discussion with Korean academics, employers and trade unionists has proven that how different the perspectives on minimum wage increase are. The conference was concluded by underlining the importance of on-going efforts towards social dialogue as well as the necessity to reform the current Korean minimum wage system.

FES International Conference on "Work-Life-Balance and Labour Market Policies for Women" (Seoul, 10 to 13 October, 2018)

The previous South Korean governments have undertaken policy measures to gurantee female-friendly labour environment and their effects have not been sufficient compared with other OECD countries. Following up a series of discussion with academics researchers, NGOs and trade unions, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office has conducted a comparative study on "The female labour markets and parental leave policies in post-industrial countries in Europe and East Asia", which was written by Ms. Song Min Young (Ph.D. candidate, Department of Social Welfare, Ehwa Womans University) and supervised by Dr. Sophia Seung-yoon Lee (Assistant Professor, Department of Social Welfare, Ehwa Womans University).

In order to present and discuss the findings of this study the FES Korea has hosted an International Conference in Seoul on 12th of October and invited four international experts as follow: Dr. Gerda Neyer (Associate Professor, Linnaeus Center on Social Policy and Family Dynamics in Europe), Dr. Thordis Reimer (Reserach Associate, Faculty of Economics and Social Science, University of Hamburg), Dr. Anne Salles (Lecturer, Paris Sorbonne University) and Dr. Machiko Osawa (Professor, Faculty of Integrated Arts and Social Sciences, Japan Women's University).

During the discussion both similarities and differences between the Asian and European countries became apparent. The experts commonly emphasized on protecting women from the risk of career break through the parental leave policy. Especially, the Korean situation showed that more work-life-balance friendly environmnt is need. As a result of the discussion the following suggestions were made for promoting work-life-balance in Korea: improving parental leave schemes (i.e. provide universal eligibility, raise payment, and regulate violation of equal treatment law) and broadening the care schemes (i.e. provide better public childcare services and involve more men in childrearing and housework).

International Symposium on "Institutionalization of Industry-level Bargaining" (Seoul, 9 to 11 September, 2018)

Since the early 2000s, the Korean trade unions have been demanding to establish an industry-level collective bargaining system. In order to support this efforts, the Korean Metal Workers' Union (KMWU) in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office has organized an International Symposium on "Institutionalization of Industry-level Bargaining" on 10th September 2018 at the Korea Press Center. At this symposium Mr. Jörg Hofmann (President, IG Metall) and Mr. Björn Böhnig (State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs) shared their experiences on the industry-level collective bargaining system in Germany. The case of Germnay has shown that the legal framework and the strong practice of social dialogue mechanism have given the basis for sectoral collective barganing. Also high union density, strong bargaining coverage and active workers participation can promote socio-economic equity and justice in the labour market. 

At the occasion of this symposium, the delegation of IG Metall and Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has also discussed issues on fourth industrial revolution and futre of labour with various Korean interest groups. The delegation of the IG Metall confirmed that they could use the on-going discussion on Work 4.0 in Germany and Kroea as a possible cooperation agenda with the Korea trade unionists. Especially, the German metal workers have emphasized on the importance of developing new strategies for collective bargainin, co-determination as well as education and training programs.

ITUC-FES "Asia Pacific Regional Pre-International Labour Conference Meeting" and ITUC-FKTU-KCTU-FES "Dialogue on UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights" (Seoul, 26 to 29 March, 2018)

The 2018 International Labour Conference (ILC) will take place in Geneva from 28 May to 8 June 2018. In advance of this conference, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in collaboration with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office (FES Korea) has organised the "Asia Pacific Regional Pre-International Labour Conference Meeting" in Seoul between 26 and 27 March 2018, which brought the ITUC - Asia and Pacific affiliates together.

During this meeting the trade unionists exchanged their country's situations and their ideas to set up priority list for the upcoming ILC. Furthermore the participants used this opportunity to ensure that the ILC and ILO supervisory mechanism are effectively used as extensions of their campaigns such as the ITUC's Countries at Risk programme. Based on a comprehensive index the ITUC is making a watch list monitoring countries where human and trade union rights are seriously under attack. The ITUC affiliates in these countries are dealing with conflict, opposing discrimination and oppression to ensure fundamental rights for all workers. The ITUC Global Rights Index provides a yearly insight into workers' rights violation. Along with Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Qatar, the Philippines, Turkey and the UAE, South Korea was ranked as 10 worst countries (Rating 5) in 2017.

In the occasion of this event, selected unionists shared the cases of labour rights violation practiced by the Korean investments in the ASEAN region with the representatives of civil society, members of the National Assembly, government officers and academics. They also discussed about the initiative of National Human Rights Commission of Korea to include a chapter on Business and Human Rights in the National Action Plan. During a press conference, jointly organised by the ITUC, FKTU, KCTU and FES Korea on March 29, the labour activists from Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam delivered a strong message to follow the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in practice and guarantee an effective remedy against labour rights violation.