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Implications: The Moon administration’s proactive effort to include labor unions as stakeholders in public policy reflects the government’s outlook on the severity of the economic challenges ahead. Notably, the Korean government took unprecedented action to reconcile the FKTU and the KCTU, creating the basis for their joint participation in the consultative committee. Public dialogue emphasized that the active participation of these key stakeholders is necessary to implement drastic and tangible changes to the labor market as part of President Moon’s so-called “Korean New Deal.” In addition, the urgency reflects the administration’s view that the post-COVID headwinds are not navigable without unity in purpose among these various institutions.
Context: KCTU and FKTU have long maintained different political positions. Because the KCTU had been absent from the Korea Tripartite Commission in 1998, the relatively-moderate FKTU represented labor’s position in the public policy discussions. During the Park Geun-hye administration, relations between the FKTU and the government was damaged after the government implemented reforms despite strong opposition from the union. As a consequence, there had been little dialogue between labor and the Blue House until the start of the Moon administration.
Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Gordon Henning, Soojin Hwang, Hyungim Jang, and Ingyeong Park.
Picture from flickr user odius kim