Korean EPZ Corporation V International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF)

Overview

NCP Decision Rejected
Current Status Closed
Date Submitted 31/03/2004
Date Closed 19/05/2004
Case Duration 7 weeks and 0 days
Host Country Bangladesh  (Non-adhering country)
Issue(s) Freedom of Association in Export Processing Zones
Provisions Cited II.1  II.2  II.5  II.11  IV.1-a   
Case Description At the end of March 2004, the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF) submitted a case to the Korean NCP concerning the attempts of Korean EPZ Corporation, a group of 22 Korean investors, to prevent the Bangladeshi government to end the ban on freedom of association in their Export Processing Zones (EPZs).

The Bangladeshi government announced in the Gazette publication in 2001 that all workers in EPZs would have their rights restored from the first of January 2004. This was challenged by Youngone Corporation (one of the biggest foreign investors in Korea) in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in 2003 on the grounds that the government had unilaterally changed the rules given that foreign companies invested in Bangladesh in the belief that trade unions were not allowed in the EPZs.

Apart from violating workers' right to organise, the company was also considered to have infringed several paragraphs of the chapter on General Policies.

Developments The NCP replied in May that it was not certain that the Korean EPZ Corporation had any relevance to the case, arguing that the company’s task was to develop an EPZ. The ITGLWF wrote again to the NCP underlining that although the Korean EPZ Corporation was a company established to develop an EPZ in Bangladesh, it should nevertheless comply with the Guidelines. The NCP repeated that the company had not acted on behalf of investors in EPZs, but had merely developed an EPZ and thus did not interfere with trade union rights.

Organisations

Lead NCP South Korea NCP : Independent Expert Body 

Companies

Multinational Company Korean EPZ Corporation (Home country: South Korea)

Complainants

Lead Complainant International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation : Global Union Federation 

TUAC Analysis

Did the NCP publish its initial assessment? status-icon
Did the case involve parallel proceedings? status-icon
Was the existence of parallel proceedings an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Was the businsess relationship other than that of a subsidiary? status-icon
Was the nature of the business relationship an obstacle to the NCP accepting the case? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its acceptance of this case? status-icon
Did the NCP offer mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the company accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Did the complainant(s) accept the offer of mediation or conciliation? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation held? status-icon
Was mediation or conciliation conducted by a professional mediator? status-icon
Did the parties reach agreement? status-icon
If yes, did the NCP publish this agreement following the consent of the parties? status-icon
If mediation was refused or failed did the NCP make an assessment of whether the company had breached the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP conduct in-host country fact finding? status-icon
Did the NCP make recommendations to the company on the future implementation of the Guidelines? status-icon
Did the NCP publish its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP provide for follow-up of the agreement/recommendations? status-icon
Did the NCP inform other relevant government departments about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP inform public pension funds about its final statement or report? status-icon
Did the NCP apply any consequences in this case? status-icon
Did the NCP follow the indicative timescales set out in the procedural guidance? status-icon
Was there a positive outcome for the workers involved in this case? status-icon
Did the filing of the case under the Guidelines have a positive impact for the workers involved? status-icon
Did the lead NCP play a positive role? status-icon
If different, did the home NCP play a positive role? status-icon

Implications

Conflict with investment treaty rules; failure to find grounds for responsibility