Korean Workers and Neoliberal Globalization
One of the most remarkable aspects of South Korea's transition from impoverished post-colonial nation to fully-fledged industrialized democracy has been the growth of its independent and dynamic labour movement. Korean Workers and Neoliberal Globalisation examines current trends and transformations within the Korean labour movement since the 1990s.
It has been a common assumption that the 'third wave' of democratisation, the end of the Cold War, and the spread of neoliberal globalisation in the latter part of the 20th century have helped to create an environment in which organised labour is better placed to overcome bureaucratic national unionism and transform itself into a potential counter-globalisation movement. However, Kevin Gray argues that despite the apparent continued phenomena of labour militancy and the rhetoric of anti-neoliberalism, the mainstream independent labour movement in Korea has become increasingly institutionalised and bureaucratised into the new capitalist democracy. This process is demonstrated by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions' experience of participation in various forms of policy making forums. Gray suggests that as a result, the KCTU has failed to mount an effective challenge against processes of neoliberal restructuring and concomitant social polarisation.
The Korean experience provides an excellent case study for understanding the relationship between organised labour and globalisation. Korean Workers and Neoliberal Globalisation will appeal to students and scholars of Korean studies and International Political Economy, as well as Asian politics and economics.
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However , the NCTU nonetheless occupies an important position within the
history of the democratic labour movement in terms of the role it played in
assisting the wage struggle and collective bargaining , in conducting the labour
law reform ...
as ' selfish ' or ' economic unionism ' , militancy has been both ' class ' and “
political in character , since the gains were made in the interests of the entire
working class as the labour movement secured its position as a principal
dynamic force ...
This change of position thereby represented the end of a major division over
strategy within the progressive movement ( Yu B˘msang 2005 : 320 ) . The
question for the progressive movement as a whole thus became not whether it
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Neoliberal globalization labour and resistance
Globalization crisis and the entrenchment
The rise and fall of militant labour unionism in Korea
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