Trade & labour rights: toothless deals need teeth!


Today the European Commission formally requested consultations with the Government of South Korea on the lack of implementation of fundamental labour rights.

This is strongly welcomed by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) which, together with the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, have pressed for a long time for consultations to be launched due to the poor situation of workers’ rights in South Korea.

South Korea is ranked among the worst countries for workers in the International Trade Union Confederation’s Global Index 2010 as offering workers “no guarantee of rights”.

ETUC hopes that the consultation will persuade South Korea to address the on-going violations of UN International Labour Organisation l Conventions. However, like all current EU trade deals, the one with South Korea includes no sanctions for violating labour rights.

The ETUC reiterates its demand to the Government of South Korea to ratify  the ILO core conventions, notably No 29 and 105 (prohibition of forced labour), as well as No 87 and 98 (freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining).

Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary said “Without respect for fundamental workers’ rights, we cannot have fair globalisation. We call for a review of enforcement of labour rights under existing EU Free Trade Agreements including CETA, and all new trade agreements to include binding labour clauses with sanctions if labour rights are not upheld.  This is particularly important for upcoming deals such as with Mexico and Mercosur.”