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Yoon meets trilateral dialogue representatives for 1st time

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : Feb. 6, 2024 - 15:31

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Social and Labor Affairs Committee Chairman Kim Moon-soo speaks at the country’s tripartite social dialogue, arranged through the Committee, held in the main conference room at the ESLC office in Jung-gu, Seoul, on Tuesday morning. (The Economic, Social and Labor Affairs Committee) Social and Labor Affairs Committee Chairman Kim Moon-soo speaks at the country’s tripartite social dialogue, arranged through the Committee, held in the main conference room at the ESLC office in Jung-gu, Seoul, on Tuesday morning. (The Economic, Social and Labor Affairs Committee)

President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday met representatives of the country’s tripartite panel of labor, management and the government, urging them to jointly resolve pending issues.

“Labor-management issues are not simply issues between groups with different interests but should be discussed within the larger framework of ‘sustainability’ in this society," he said as he hosted a luncheon with the member of the Economic, Social and Labor Affairs Committee. "If we communicate with a common purpose of creating a sustainable future in terms of affection for society, love for future generations, and patriotism for the country, there will be no problem that cannot be resolved."

The former prosecutor has been tough on labor unions as he exercised executive orders to stop their prolonged street protests, calling them illegal.

The luncheon was held after the first face-to-face meeting of the panel as the Federation of Korean Trade Unions returned to the dialogue in November. The role of the trilateral dialogue has been questioned as it had no role in narrowing differences over a series of controversial labor reform plans including the government's drive to fix the weekly work-hour system.

Earlier, the FKTU declared a halt to its social dialogue activities in June 2023, protesting against the police's aggressive control of street protests organized by an FKTU-affiliated union.

The meeting was attended by Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Jung-sik, Economic, Social and Labor Affairs Committee Chairman Kim Moon-soo, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions President Kim Dong-myeong and Korean Enterprises Federation Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik.

“Currently, South Korea is in a state of complex crisis involving the economy, security, and population. Therefore, true dialogue between labor, management, and government was necessary to overcome the national crisis. The social dialogue today we had was so meaningful,” said ESLC Chairman Kim.

At the meeting, they discussed agendas to be covered by the tripartite body later on. The three agendas they decided to address through further social dialogues include improving awareness, practices, and systems for work-life balance; establishing an employment and labor system in response to changes in the demographic structure; and creating jobs for future generations.

ESLC plans to create committees dedicated to each objective. Each committee will be formed this month and begin discussing the agenda in earnest. The committees will be composed of up to 20 people, including the chairperson, according to ESLC.

“We will sincerely seek measures by gathering the capabilities and wisdom of the committees,” the ESLC Chairman Kim added.