Corea, República de - Migrant union chair threatened with deportation, administrative court rules against immigration services (2012)

The Migrants’ Trade Union (MTU) was founded in April 2005 and is a member of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). However, the government has consistently refused to recognise it as a legal union and has not let it engage in trade union representation or collective bargaining, despite the fact that Korean law allows all workers to organise and that in 2006 the Seoul Higher Court recognised MTU as a legal union. The government has appealed this decision and has arrested and deported MTU leadership several times since 2005.

In November 2010, Michel Catuira, president of the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants’ Trade Union, was summoned to appear before the Immigration Office for unlawful political activities. In February 2011, the Seoul Immigration Office cancelled his employment visa status and ordered him to leave the country. The Ministry of Labour had pressured several times on the company that hired Mr Catuira, and finally the authorities cancelled the employment permit of the business owner on 1 December 2010. The Ministry of Justice then alleged that Michael Catuira had broken immigration law and summoned him for questioning on 22 December. On 15 September 2011, however, a Seoul court cancelled the government deportation order finding that he had not been falsely employed and that the acts taken against him by the government were due to his association with the MTU.

In November, the ILO issued recommendations that the government refrain from taking action against Mr Catuira until a final court decision had been made and also that it “refrain from any measures which might involve a risk of serious interference with trade union activities and might lead to the arrest and deportation of trade union leaders for reasons related to their election to trade union office”.

Since the MTU was founded in 2005, the government has arrested six of its officers, supposedly for violations of Immigration Control Act. Of these six, five were deported. In addition, the South Korean government has refused to recognise MTU’s status as a legal union, claiming that its founders, who were undocumented migrants, did not have the right to do so. Pressure recently increased on the MTU in the wake of its activities protesting the death of a Vietnamese migrant worker as the result of an immigration raid.

© ITUC-CSI-IGB 2013 | | Contact Design by - maps: jVectorMap