firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence.
Hyundai Motor`s labor dispute with non-regular workers
The story dates back to a court ruling in July. Over the case on a non-regular worker named Choi who was sacked after working at Hyundai for two years and eleven months, the Supreme Court ruled against the company, saying that in-house subcontractors employed for more than two years should be categorized as dispatched labor and thus recognized as regular workers.
The strike by non-regular workers has been interpreted differently. The labor ministry declared it as a clear violation of the law, regardless of their working conditions. The National Labor Relations Committee has concluded that non-regular workers cannot be directly hired by Hyundai Motor and that their union does not have a right to stage a labor strike. The union ignored the administrative guidance and occupied an assembly line with the support from outside unionists, demanding the company`s policy change. Since the case is now under appeal, Hyundai Motor is not obliged to hire Choi right away.
The union representatives of regular workers at Hyundai recently met with their counterparts from the metal workers` union and the irregular workers three times, persuading them to drop their demand for full-time regular jobs and instead ask for a change in the illegal outsourcing contracts. The metal workers` union decided to put it for vote whether to participate in the rally. The dispute may have broad implication as it is the first in its kind since the law for non-regular workers was introduced on July 1, 2007.
If the appeal court agrees with the labor ministry`s view that the strike is illegal, the government should strictly enforce the law and make sure no similar strikes occur.
The labor unionists should stop going to strike for their own interests but consider the uniqueness of a business. Hyundai Motor has 78% of its workforce, or 30,186 workers, under full-time contract and the rest as temporary or sub-contractors. The ratio of non-regular workers varies, depending on business sectors. Automobile industry needs to hire non-regular workers due to sluggish sales and this is a global phenomenon. If non-regular workers demand the same status as full-time jobs and stage a sit-in strike, few would want to hire them in a capitalist society.
Furthermore, Korea is the second most protectionist country for regular workers among the OECD members after Portugal. When regular workers enjoy extreme protection under the law, employers have no other choice but to hire non-regular workers as it is very difficult to fire regular workers.
Lastly, under the former President Roh Moo-hyun, the Korean economy grew at a slower pace and the number of non-regular workers surged after the government made their working conditions a political issue. A law was introduced to require employers to turn temporary workers into regular ones after two years of service.
Lawmakers lack willingness to change
The current system seems to extremely protect non-regular workers and this should be changed. The law for non-regular should be abolished or revised to extend the transition period from two years to three or five years. Lawmakers must take the initiative but I don't` see anyone willing to bell the cat.
By Park Dong-un, emeritus professor of economics at Dankook University