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Yoon warns of stern response to illegal practices at construction sites

All News 11:34 February 21, 2023

By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol warned Tuesday of "stern" action against illegal practices at construction sites, saying their negative consequences are being passed on to the people and the state would not deserve its name if it left them unattended.

Yoon made the remarks during a Cabinet meeting where officials were set to discuss ways to root out what the government describes as illegal and unfair practices at construction sites.

President Yoon Suk Yeol (2nd from L) speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the presidential office in Seoul on Feb. 21, 2023. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol (2nd from L) speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the presidential office in Seoul on Feb. 21, 2023. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

"Militant labor unions with vested rights continue to overtly carry out illegal actions at construction sites, such as demanding money and goods, forcing hiring and obstructing construction," Yoon said.

"As a result, workers are losing their jobs and construction is being poorly done. The damage is being passed on to the people, with delays in the opening of new elementary schools and move-ins to new apartments," he added.

Construction unions affiliated with the country's two major umbrella labor organizations -- the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions -- have been accused of coercing employers to hire their union members for construction jobs.

Yoon's remark came a day after he warned of similar stern action against labor unions that refuse to disclose their account books.

"If we see violence and illegal action but do nothing about it, we cannot be called a state," he said at the Cabinet meeting. "We must carry out a special inspection and crackdown on illegal activities, and when illegal activities are found, take stern action, according to the law."

Yoon called on public organizations and the private sector to join the government in rooting out illegal activities.

He also reiterated his call for accounting transparency at labor unions, describing it as the starting point for labor reform.

"Continuing to provide financial support to labor unions that refuse to be transparent with accounting will be something the people paying precious taxes will have a hard time accepting," he said, citing data that the two umbrella unions received 152.1 billion won (US$117.4 million) in subsidies from the labor ministry and regional governments between 2018 and 2022.

Yoon urged the labor ministry and other relevant ministries to speedily push legislation supporting labor reforms.

Yoon also recognized the South Korean rescue workers who recently returned from Turkey after aiding post-earthquake efforts, saying they deserve to be praised and encouraged.

He asked the relevant ministries to ensure Turkey continues to receive systematic and effective assistance.


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