The municipalisation of care service providers in South Korea

The role and significance of local authority-operated Public agencies for social services

Trade unions are often fighting to return privatised services into public ownership and control (“remunicipalisation”, “in-sourcing” or “de-privatisation”) so they can be run in the public interest, not for profit. Unions are also key to bringing about the transformative social and policy changes needed to trigger the establishment of new public services and institutions to meet collective needs (“municipalisation”).  This paper examines one of these unique union experiences: the complex and relentless struggle of PSI affiliate the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union (KPTU) to de-privatise the care sector in South Korea.  Traditionally care in South Korea has been left to the private domain of the household, with an overwhelming burden placed on women, and dominated by for-profit operators delivering inadequate services for users and poor conditions for care workers.

This Policy brief was written by Jae-hun Lee, Research Secretary at the KPTU-Public Policy Institute for People (KPTUPPIP).