Can workers who need to worry about their jobs right away at the threshold of the climate crisis and industrial transformation emerge as agents of a just transformation? Although there is a self-help perspective that there are not many things that can be resolved through labor-management negotiations, the movement to prepare a proposal for collective agreements and practical guidelines is becoming visible, centering on the two major trade unions and industrial unions. At this year’s collective bargaining, attention is paid to whether the climate crisis response plan based on this can be discussed as a major agenda item.
Formation of Special Committee on Climate Crisis Response by KCTU
The Korean Federation of Trade Unions prepares wage-and-distance guidelines
According to a report by
The Special Response Committee aims to raise awareness among members about the severity of the climate crisis. It is also at the beginning of discussions to prepare a model collective agreement for the realization of climate justice and a just transition. In addition, it is developing a ‘one-point collective bargaining requirement’ that can be put into practice in the workplace. Various demands are being put on the discussion table, for example, to have the cafeteria serve a climate-justified diet or to set a day for commuting by bicycle once a month.
The Federation of Trade Unions is discussing adding a chapter titled ‘Industrial transformation and union response to the climate crisis’ to this year’s guidelines for collective wage and collective bargaining struggles. In a survey to prepare guidelines for joint wage efforts, the Korea Federation of Trade Unions identified the impact of industrial conversion following the carbon decarbonization policy on the business sites of member unions and the level of preparation between labor and management.
Sangyoon Lee, Deputy Director of Policy Division 2 of the Federation of Trade Unions, said, “The union’s response to industrial transformation and the spread of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) management due to the climate crisis is one of the key issues this year. We plan to present a specific example of the collective agreement request.”
Coal-fired power generation and auto parts industries in front of restructuring
It is also true that in industries such as coal-fired power generation, where an employment crisis is occurring due to industrial transformation, there are not many problems that the union can solve by asking the management.
“KEPCO Industrial Development, which operates fuel and environmental facilities, may lose its company if the coal-fired power plant is shut down,” said Song Min, chairman of the Korea Southern Power Workers’ Union. said Kim Seong-gwan, chairman of the Korea East-West Power Workers’ Union, said, “Last year, when Honam Thermal Power Plant Units 1 and 2 in Yeosu, Jeollanam-do were shut down, special negotiations were held with management. .
The union of the five power generation companies is of the view that union integration is necessary to increase bargaining power with the government. In September of last year, the five power companies’ integration promotion committee was formed and discussions are underway with the goal of integration in September of this year.
In the auto parts industry, it is not easy for the labor community to take the lead and demand reduction of carbon emissions. The union has no intention of making carbon emission reduction a negotiating agenda. It was based on the perception that it is not a matter that can be decided unilaterally by the central government, and that it is a matter determined by government policy anyway. Lee Seong-hee, director of the policy bureau of the Korea Metal Workers’ Union, said, “We are thinking about what practical alternatives are to auto parts makers who are in crisis due to industrial transformation.
The Korea Metal Workers’ Union is also planning to respond with a focus on the auto parts industry. About a third of unions under the Federation belong to the auto parts industry. The Federation plans to collect on-site opinions through the Automobile Parts Industry Committee and deliver them to the Economic, Social and Labor Committee or the Carbon Neutrality Committee. Even in the auto parts industry, the temperature difference in response to climate crisis is different for each business site. Electronic parts makers, which are also widely used in electric vehicles, may benefit from industrial transformation. It is also a task to prepare a proposal that reflects the different interests of each business site.