South Korean Cabinet Seeks Parliamentary Reconsideration of ‘Yellow Envelope Bill’

SEOUL - The South Korean Cabinet, in a meeting on Friday, approved a motion for the parliamentary reconsideration of four contentious legislative measures, including the pro-labor "yellow envelope law." This action comes in response to the unilateral passing of these bills by opposition parties in the previous month, and President Yoon Suk Yeol is expected to endorse this motion, effectively vetoing the bills.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The "yellow envelope law," aimed at limiting the ability of companies to claim damages against legitimate labor union actions, has been at the center of a heated debate. According to government officials, the bill, passed by the opposition-controlled parliament, has faced stiff opposition from business groups and the ruling party. Critics argue that the bill would hinder employers from taking legal action against illegal strikes and exempt workers from liabilities for their participation in such strikes. The origin of the bill dates back to a high-profile strike by unionized workers at SsangYong Motor Co. in 2009, which was later declared illegal by the Supreme Court. In response to the Supreme Court's decision ordering the workers to pay compensation, civic activists and citizens started donating money to the workers in yellow envelopes.

Apart from the labor bill, the Cabinet's motion also includes a request for reconsideration of three revisions to broadcasting laws, which are intended to diminish the government's influence over public broadcasters. Concerns have been raised that these revisions could compromise the impartiality of public broadcasting.

Previously, President Yoon had rejected two other opposition-led bills – a nursing act and a revision to the Grain Management Act. The latest motion from the Cabinet has drawn strong protests from the country's major labor unions. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions have expressed their determination to continue their opposition to the Yoon administration's stance, which they perceive as biased towards corporate interests.

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