KCTU head offers to resign over breakdown of labor deal on COVID-19

SEOUL, The head of South Korea’s biggest trade union offered to resign Friday, holding himself responsible for the failure of a key labor agreement drawn up by the government and business and labor circles to deal with the economic fallout from the new coronavirus.
“As mentioned before, I still have some five months until my term ends, but I intend to resign to take responsibility,” Kim Myung-hwan, chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), announced at a press conference at the union’s headquarters in central Seoul.
The announcement came a day after KCTU members voted to reject a tentative agreement between the government, business employers and the labor sector that centers on sustaining jobs and expanding the social safety net while easing financial burdens for companies.
Two other union executives, including Chief Vice Chairman Kim Kyung-ja, also offered to resign.
Kim Myung-hwan appeared disappointed at the union’s rejection of the agreement Thursday, expressing his wish that the union stay connected and see eye-to-eye with the rest of the country and the people.
“Due to my deficiencies, that appeal has not been met,” said Kim.
Under the tentative agreement, the government had proposed to map out a universal employment insurance plan by year-end and provide financial support for companies that have temporarily suspended their businesses or asked employees to take leaves from work due to the fallout from the virus.
Businesses, meanwhile, had pledged to maintain employment, while the labor circle in turn said it planned to agree to cutting work hours and taking leaves for this goal.
Kim was among the first to propose talks between the government and business and labor circles. With Thursday’s vote, the country’s labor and business circles failed to reach a meaningful consensus on the first social agreement of its kind in 22 years.
A similar agreement was reached in 1998, when Asia’s fourth-largest economy was going through the Asian financial crisis.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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