Today's Hankyoreh reports the following:
Lee gov't cuts funding for Korea Labor Institute
The move is being interpreted as retaliation by the Lee Myung-bak administration for the KLI union strike last year
Members of Korean Labor Institute Union held a strike to demand nullification of the
lockout at the KLI building located in Seoul’s Yeongdeungpo district, 2009.12.01
The Korean Labor Institute, a government-affiliated research institute on labor issues that has been experiencing heavy labor-management conflicts over the past year, stands at a crossroads because the Lee Myung-bak administration has decided not to draw up any contracts for their research service. As a result, the institute is slated to run out of money to fund operating costs starting in August of this year.
KLI is the institute that participated in the first strike held by a government research institute last year arguing that the newly appointed director of KLI was controlling research that was supposed to be autonomous. Park Ki-seong, then president of KLI, resigned last December following heavy labor-management conflicts including a strike, however, many experts are expressing concerns that the Lee administration is engaging in retaliation by severing the research service contracts.
It has been confirmed that as of March 14, KLI has not signed any research service contracts with the Labor Ministry. KLI fulfilled contracts for 44 research services and received 2.7 billion Won ($2.4 million) in compensation in 2008, and 48 research services for 3.3 billion Won in 2009 with the Labor Minisry. The compensation for these research services comprises half of KLI’s annual budget, thus the institute is expected to face serious financial difficulties starting in August of this year if the current situation continues.
Furthermore, Korea Workplace Innovation Center (KOWIN), one of the affiliated organizations of KLI, is facing a crisis in which it may be forced to close its doors. KOWIN, which is a consulting center for job sharing and family-friendly management, has not paid wages to its employees because it is experiencing such a shortage of funding. KOWIN attempted to begin consultation work in January, however, the Labor Ministry ordered it to stop by saying that the ministry would not fund the consultation programs. Although KOWIN Center’s union, which is separate from the KLI union, made a permanent pledge to not hold a strike, the employees are concerned that the center will be forced to close. As a result, KOWIN is telling its employees to search for new jobs.
Some critics say that this type of retaliation was carried out in order to gag other government research institutes. They also said that this has reduced the efficiency and autonomy of government research institutes.