The Evolution of Korean Industrial and Employment Relations
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The Evolution of Korean Industrial and Employment Relations

Edited by Young-Myon Lee and Bruce E. Kaufman

The Evolution of Korean Industrial and Employment Relations explores current employment and workplace relations practice in South Korea, tracing their origins to key historical events and giving cultural, politico-economic and global context to the inevitable cultural adaptation in one of Asia’s ‘miraculous’ democracies.
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Chapter 6: Korean public sector employment relations

Seung-Hyeob Lee and David Lewin


This chapter analyzes the diverse institutional arrangements of public sector employment relations in Korea – in particular, unionization, bargaining structure, and key issues. Korean labor has little voice despite the government changing hands multiple times. A look at the status of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) and the Korean Government Employees’ Union (KGEU) demonstrate the difficulties public sector unions face in claiming their share of voice within a two-tier bargaining system. Public sector workers, employees and unions have largely been silenced by the unilateral institutionalization of restrictive laws and practices like the registration approval system and prohibitions on collective action for teachers and civil servants. The author argues that to take their place at the table, public sector organizations must learn how to acknowledge economic realities and court public opinion in their strategies and tactics.

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