Three key International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions that prohibit forced labour and guarantee freedom of association went into effect Wednesday, a year after South Korea completed the ratification process, the labour ministry said.
The conventions No. 29 on forced labour, No. 87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organise and No. 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining will now have the same legal status as domestic laws, according to the ministry.
The implementation is not expected to bring a huge change as the country amended related labour laws, including the Trade Union and Labour Relations Adjustment Act and the Act on the Establishment and Operation of Teachers’ Unions, in line with the conventions in July of last year.
But observers say confusion could arise over differences between domestic laws and the ILO conventions.
The revised labour laws still do not fully meet the international labour standard, such as prohibition on the creation of labour unions of self-employed people or freelancers, defined as “non-workers” by law, a report from the Judicial Policy Research Institute showed.
The ILO convention on the freedom of association stipulates workers, without any distinction, have the right to establish labour unions.
On Tuesday, the Korea Enterprises Federation (KEF) said there are concerns that problems between labour and management may become a global issue because of the ILO conventions and negatively affect South Korean companies while increasing the possibility of trade disputes.
On the other hand, labour activists called for further amendment of labour laws to reduce the disparity with the conventions.