The Migrants Trade Union (MTU)

The Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants Trade Union (MTU) is a union founded for and by migrant workers in April 2005.

MTU was formed in the wake of a 381-day-long sit-in protest against the government’s crackdown on undocumented migrant workers and the enforcement of a new system for regulating migrant labor (the Employment Permit System), which went on from November 2003 to December 2004. The migrant workers who formed the heart of this struggle went on to found MTU in order to fight for equal labor rights, an end to the crackdown and legalization of all undocumented migrant workers.

The South Korean government has refused to recognize MTU as a legal union. Its main argument is the MTU’s membership is made up of undocumented migrant workers, who it says do not have the right to form or participate in unions. By MTU’s constitution say that all migrant workers, regardless of status, may become members and run for election as union officers. In fact, our membership includes documented and undocumented migrant workers, who are all struggling for our rights together. Moreover, we know that in both Korean and international law, all workers are entitled to the right to freedom of association, regardless of their social status.  

Therefore, we began a lawsuit to challenge the government’s decision, and in 2007 the Seoul High Court found in our favor. The government, however, has appealed this decision to the Supreme Court and has shamelessly targeted our leaders for arrest and deportation in an attempt to smother our union. MTU’s leadership has been arrested 3 times in April 2005, November 2007 and May 2005. This pattern caused the ILO Committee of Freedom of Association to recommend to the South Korean Government to stop its targeting of MTU officers. We have not backed down in the face of government repression and continue to fight for the rights we justly deserve. We are currently waiting for a decision on our case for union registration from the Supreme Court. 


- Stop the crackdown!

- Stop the repression of migrant workers!

- Legalize all undocumented migrant workers!

- Recognize the Migrants Trade Union!

- Change the EPS into the Work Permit System!

- Ensure migrant workers' Human & Labor rights!