When coalition falls apart: a case of solidarity building by two South Korean unions in an era of precarious work
This article examines the external and organizational factors behind the coalition dynamics of two labour unions representing different types of employment contracts - temporary and permanent - that led the 2007 Irregular Workers Movement in South Korea. Drawing on semi-structured interviews, video footage, newspapers and internal document data, we find that while political opportunities drove the two unions to come together, broad alliances that formed around the coalition on the issue of job security for irregular workers caused the union of predominantly regular workers to become marginalized. Organizational differences that initially seemed complementary prevented a shared identity from forming despite collective strikes and became a source of resentment. The varying progress of negotiations not only reduced the benefits of claims coordination and collective action but also invoked otherness between the two unions. Lack of trust and recognition did not allow for even a loose relationship of cooperative differentiation.
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