Globalisation and regionalism: employment relations in South Korea

Leggett, Chris (1998) Globalisation and regionalism: employment relations in South Korea. In: Globalisation and Regionalism: employment relations issues in the Asia Pacific: proceedings of the 6th annual conference of the International Employment Relations Association, pp. 188-196. From: 1998 IERA: Sixth Annual Conference of the International Employment Relations Association: Globalisation and regionalism: employment relations issues in the Asia Pacific, 15-17 July 1998, Wollongong, NSW, Australia.

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Abstract

On Saturday 14 February 1998, South Korea passed new labour legislation which gives employers the right to lay off workers made redundant for business reasons, including mergers and acquisitions. Similar legislation, introduced unexpectedly at the end of 1996, had been reversed in 1997 after substantial public protest. That a restoration of the 1996 legislation has been possible is contingent on the circumstances of South Korea in the global economy, the election of an opposition president, and the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, of which South Korea was a serious casualty. Unlike in Singapore, Hong Kong and, to some extent, Taiwan, The Korean labour movement had never been completely subordinated to the industrialising elite, here comprising an alliance of army officers and chaebol families. Suppression of militant trade unionism was begun under the American Military Government (AMG) as the cold war set in and labour activists operated only clandestinely. Vigilance of labour was maintained by the repressive dictatorships of presidents Park Chung-Hee and Chun Doo-Wan, who oversaw the rapid industrialisation and economic restructuring of the country in the 1970s and 1980s. However, when, in 1987, Korea, under external pressure from trading nations, began to democratise, the suppressed independent labour movement became openly active in promoting workers' rights and securing better pay and conditions. The new unions faced the opposition of mostly hostile chaebol employers, the initial complacency of the official trade union federation and a government reluctant to abandon its authoritarian ways. Nevertheless, rapid changes took place in employment relations in Korea over the following decade, and it is demonstrated in this paper, that these have been indirectly in response to increasing globalisation and its regional manifestation in the Asia Pacific.

Item ID: 17133
Item Type: Conference Item (Refereed Research Paper - E1)
Keywords: globalisation, employment relations, Asia-Pacific, South Korea
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ISBN: 978-0-86418-581-5
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2012 04:11
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150306 Industrial Relations @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910401 Industrial Relations @ 100%
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