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International solidarity unlocks key agreement for South Korean workers

03 Apr 2020

After nine months of organising, workers at UPS in South Korea have won their first ever collective bargaining agreement at the company.

As part of the agreement, the American logistics giant has agreed to end forced unpaid overtime and improve pay standards.

The workers union, the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union (KPTU), says that negotiations with UPS had stalled until unions in the UK and USA got involved.

In a statement, the KPTU said: “UPS management refused to listen to basic demands … forcing workers to engage in two strike actions at the end of 2019 leading to the cancellation of all inbound [UPS] flights to Korea.”

At this point the ITF, Unite and the Teamsters intervened with UPS. The KPTU statement continues: “This continued international pressure and the UPS branch's tenacity, including work-to-rule action, made it possible to achieve an agreement with management.”

The chair of the ITF road transport section, James P. Hoffa, congratulated the workers on their achievement: “Korean UPS workers stood up for themselves in forming a union and joining KPTU. They bravely took the risk of job actions to demand their right to a fair collective bargaining agreement. We warmly welcome UPS Korean workers into the ITF family of UPS and global delivery unions worldwide.”

ITF general secretary, Stephen Cotton, added: “This is what the ITF is all about – working people coming together across borders to tackle common problems. Many congratulations to the workers at UPS in South Korea, you are an inspiration to us all.”