Building Social Coalition for Representing Marginalized Workers : Focusing on the Case of the National Minimum Wage Solidarity in Korea

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Mijin KIM, The Economic Policy Institute for Quality Life(EPI), Japan
Increasing the number of non-regular workers (bijeonggyujik) has become the most serious social problem in Korea due to the poor quality of job and income security. Those workers also have difficulty in making their voice through the conventional union activities such as strikes and collective bargaining because male-regular-dominated labor unions excluded them. Especially, non-regular workers’ interests have been hardly represented in the decision-making process for minimum wage. It is because only male-regular-dominated labor unions can participate in the decision-making process as the representative of workers.

Against these difficulties, new attempts to building social coalitions among labor union and social movements have emerged since 2000s. The National Minimum Wage Solidarity(NMWS) is one of the most influential and long-lasting social coalitions in Korea, which have dealt with low wage workers’ problems. From its established in 2002, various organizations, including not only labor unions but also new labor organizations (i.e. Korean Women Trade Union and Korean Youth Community Union), and other new social movement organizations(i.e. Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy) have joined in NMWS.

How NMWS could be shaped and various organizations have sustained to work together from its beginning? What kinds of roles have been played by each organization?

By adopting “four elements” for coalition building (Tattersall 2010), which includes the nature of common concern, the structure of organizational relationships, organizational capacity and commitment, and the scale of coalition activities, this study will search for understanding the process, that a variety of organizations could be engaged in NMWS despite of their political orientation and different style of activities, and the roles of each organization in the minimum wage campaign.

This study will make contribution on the extending the framework to understanding sustainable conditions for keep the cooperative relationship among labor unions and other social movements.