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(LEAD) In ILO summit, Moon vows S. Korea's continued efforts to better workers' lives

Politics 17:38 July 08, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with Moon's message; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, July 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday his country will continue efforts to improve the rights of workers, pointing to his liberal administration's push for the parliamentary ratification of more International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions.

He was speaking in a video message to the virtual global summit of the ILO, titled "COVID-19 and the World of Work -- Building a better future of work."

It was joined by more than 60 heads of state and around 20 chiefs of international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Moon emphasized the significance of mutual prosperity in response to the transition to a digital economy and "employment shock" from the coronavirus crisis.

"Korea is determined to protect existing jobs and create new ones by embarking on the path to mutual prosperity," he said. "We will join international efforts to improve the quality of life for workers, including through the ratification of the key ILO conventions."

On Tuesday, Moon's Cabinet approved a motion on adopting the three conventions: No. 87 on freedom of association, No. 98 on the right to organize and collective bargaining, and No. 29 on the prohibition of forced labor.

South Korea joined the ILO, a Geneva-based U.N. agency, in 1991, but it has yet to ratify four of the eight core conventions. Officials here say it is still premature to ratify convention No. 105 on the abolition of forced labor since it clashes with local law and requires legal revision via social dialogue.

Moon took note of South Korea's labor policy initiatives rooted in the time-honored tradition of its people to help each other in difficult times and share burdens.

"Over long periods, Korea has been steadily advancing toward a society that respects labor, based on the recognition that labor is the very foundation of society," he said. "We continue to make efforts to reduce working hours and raise the minimum wage."

Even prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, South Korea had been seeking to create "more quality jobs" in local communities through a three-party partnership among local labor circles, the business community and the government.

"This job creation model is spreading across many cities all over the country," Moon said.

He added, "The importance of solidarity and cooperation resonates more powerfully than ever before as we continue our fight against COVID-19."

The international community should work together to overcome the crisis in a way that "reduces inequality and bridges disparities," and the ILO stands at the very heart of such endeavors, the president said.

"Korea will work and act together to this end," he stressed, ending his speech that lasted close to seven minutes.


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