Resolution on the restrictions of the civil rights of teachers in South Korea

published 25 July 2011 updated 31 March 2017

The 6th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, from 22nd to 26th July 2011:

Noting that:

  1. In 2010, 183 teachers affiliated to the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU or Jeon Gyo Jo) were indicted by the Korean Prosecution Office for making a personal donation to a political party. Subsequently, on instruction from the Ministry of Education, local education officials took disciplinary measures against those teachers. Although the court procedure had not even begun, eight KTU teachers were fired and another 21 were suspended;

  1. In 2011, the court decided that although there was no evidence that the indicted teachers had joined a political party, they were fined from 300,000W to 500,000W (250 USD to 450 USD) on the grounds that personal donations constitute a violation of the current civil servants law;

  1. At the end of June 2011, the Korean Prosecution Office investigated and indicted a new group of over 1,400 KTU teachers who also made donations to a political party. This new action, to forbid Korean teachers to exercise fundamental civil and political rights as citizens, is further evidence of the current government's determination to undermine the teacher trade union KTU.

Recalling that:

  1. the jurisprudence developed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Article 2 of the Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise provides that freedom of association should be guaranteed without discrimination of any kind based on occupation [...] beliefs, nationality, political opinion, etc. not only to workers in the private sector of the economy, but also to civil servants and public service employees in general;

  1. article 80 of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers stating that “ Teachers should be free to exercise all civic rights generally enjoyed by citizens and should be eligible for public office”;

  1. article 26 of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel stating that “ Higher-education teaching personnel, like all other groups and individuals, should enjoy those internationally recognized civil, political, social and cultural rights applicable to all citizens”;

  1. South Korea, as a member of the UN, the ILO, the OECD and the G20, has a firm obligation to respect and protect the rights of workers and uphold international labour standards, specifically freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

The World Congress therefore mandates the Executive Board, in cooperation with member organizations, to

  1. Request the South Korean Government to take without delay the necessary measures to:

  2. suspend all disciplinary measures imposed on the KTU leaders and teachers;

  3. reinstate the recently dismissed and suspended KTU teachers in connection with the indictment for political donations;

  4. suspend the indictment of 1,400 teachers;

  5. amend its legislation to guarantee the civil and political rights of public employees, including teachers, in conformity with international legislation;

  6. guarantee that all Korean teacher unionists are allowed to exercise their workers and union rights, as well as fundamental civil and political rights as citizens.

  7. Call upon all governments to respect the workers’ and union rights of all teachers, education workers and public employees, as well as their fundamental civil and political rights as citizens.