This study aims to systematically review the lessons from many countries’ experiences of labor-management cooperation system, and to analyze problems underlying the current system of Korea from the standpoints of legal issues, corporate culture, and labor administration with a purpose of providing guidelines for future policy-making.
Labor-management cooperation has developed in many countries as a way to let employees participate in the decision-making process of a company. The system has been organized and operated in a variety of fashions depending on the degree of labor-management relations development in each country. Forms of management participation can be categorized into collective bargaining, labor-management council, employee representation on company boards, and participation at shop floor level. Currently, worker participation is not the issue of choosing between doing or not, but that of deciding on how.
Labor-management cooperation in Korea was first implemented in the Labor Unions Act revised in 1963, but failed to achieve concrete results due to the lack of specific and clear objectives. Later, revisions of the Act in 1973 and 1975 provided “productivity enhancement” as the purpose of the institution. As the national priority had been on economic development over labor protection through the 1970s, and especially “the Special Act to Protect the Nation” enacted in 1971, labor unions were deprived of their rights to collective activities. The labor-management cooperation system became the only channel for dialogue and cooperation between labor and management, but failed to take firm root in Korean society. In December 1980, the system came to be independently provided in the new Labor Management Council Act, transferred from the Labor Unions Act. As of 1982, there are 4,719 labor management councils operating across the country, which makes the institution apparently successful, but the question remains on how to improve them.
Outdated legacies still remaining in the corporate culture of Korea—authoritarianism, mutual distrust, low sense of responsibility, insufficient experience of corporate community, and closed nature of management structures—prevent the participatory spirit of labor-management cooperation from spreading in the country. The system’s success requires building mutual trust and respect between labor and management, and establishing new visions for corporate leadership.
It is necessary to introduce constitutional legal provisions for the system, to ensure that labor-management councils are not abused as management tools only for the benefit of managers, and to come up with long-term plans and visions to promote the system.
|Series Title; No||연구보고 / 83-05|
|Subject Country||South Korea(Asia and Pacific)|
|Subject||Social Development < Employment|
|Holding||KDI; KDI School|