Contributed By Yoon & Yang LLC (Seoul - HQ)
Article 2.4 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act (the “Trade Union Act”) defines a trade union (ie a labour union) as “an organisation or associated organisations of employees, which is formed voluntarily and collectively upon the employees’ initiative for the purpose of maintaining and improving their working conditions and enhancing their economic and social status”. However, such organisation or associated organisations of employees are not considered as a trade union if (i) an employer or other person who always acts in the interest of the employer is allowed to join, (ii) most of the union’s expenditure is funded by the employer, (iii) its activities are only aimed at mutual benefits, moral culture and other welfare undertakings (as opposed to enhancing employees’ working conditions), (iv) those who are not employees are allowed to join the union, or (v) the main purpose of the union is to engage in political activities.
The most important function and role of a trade union is engaging in “collective bargaining” with the employer and thereby executing a “collective agreement” in order to foster enhancement and preservation of employees’ working conditions (see Articles 29 and 31 of the Trade Union Act).
In addition, trade unions may engage in “collective actions” in order to carry through with their positions in a dispute against the management arising from disagreements concerning working conditions (see Articles 2.5 and 2.6 of the Trade Union Act).