Labor-Management Council in Korea: A Look at the Past, Contemporary Trends, and Challenges for the Future

  • Jungwoo KimEmail author
  • Minsu Song


Labor-management councils (LMCs) are joint labor-management bodies that operate mostly at the plant or enterprise level in KOREA. Historically, however, it is reasonable to assume that the LMCs in Korea began as part of the labor-control policy of the military dictatorship rather than for worker participation. After the democratization of 1987, freedom of association and strike, trade union movement, and democratic labor relations have grown remarkably, yet it is hard to find any substantive change in worker participation.

According to a data analysis of Workplace Panel Survey (WPS2005–WPS2013) that statistically represents businesses with more than 30 employees in Korea, the size of the firm and the existence of the trade union have a decisive influence on the establishment of the LMC. About 10 percent of the LMCs of nonunionized workplaces function as similar trade unions that engage in negotiations and disputes, but the remaining 90 percent are not.

Specifically, in terms of participation in management in the nonunionized workplaces, the institutionalization index representing the degree of institutionalized participation in management through the LMC ranges from 1.8 to 2.7. Since 2.0 is the index for ‘pre-notifications given’, it is difficult to describe this as a high level of participation in management by the LMCs.

Until now, management and unions have shown a passive attitude toward worker participation in Korea. However, the new government is preparing for the introduction of new management participation systems such as worker board-level participation. Therefore, it is necessary to observe and study how worker participation in Korea will proceed and what effect it will have in the future.


Labor-management council (LMC) Participation Workplace Panel Survey Trade union Industrial relations 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Korea Labor InstituteSejong-SiSouth Korea

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