(en)Korea Strike Update

buddha (buddha@tao.ca)
Wed, 15 Jan 1997 13:55:00 -0500 (EST)


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Korea Strike Update Strike Urgent Report #13 Edited On January 15, 1997 Twelfth Day Of The General Strike In THE SECOND WAVE

The General Unity For A Response To The Hard Line Policy!

President Kim Young-Sam, on 13th, clarified again that his administration has no plan to repeal the revised labor laws as the protesting union workers have demanded. Addressing 252 New Korea Party (NKP) law-makers, district chapter chairmen, and standing advisors attanding a dinner he hosted at Chong Wa Dae, Kim instructed the ruling camp to take complementary measures following the law revisions, saying that "I know the revised labor law cannot satisfy labor and management both but the law was an inevitable choice."

Today, January 14, Kwon Young-Kil, the KCTU President, in relation with the reaffirmation of a lean-to-hard line policy whereby the government will not amend the revised labor law, said that "it's treatment out of line with public opinion" and made it clear again that "even for communicating the will of people uprightly, we'll rush into the Third Phase of general strike on the 15th as planned where public sectors including the workers of subways and telecommunications will join up."

Following that plan, starting tomorrow morning, subway workers in Seoul and Pusan and Korea Telecom union members are scheduled to go on an indefinite strike. The KCTU said that some 250,000 workers of 250 affiliated unions will go on a full fledged walk-out indefinitely from today.

In addition to that, some 700,000 FKCU-affiliated workers of 16 industries under its wing - banking, chemical, metal, auto, taxi, and others - are ready to go on a 39-hour strike from 4 a.m. today. Union members of 35 banks under the wing of the industrial unions are set to go on strike for four hours from noon today and tomorrow. Banking union federation spokemen said that about 100,000 unionized banking personnel, including tellers, are expected to join up in what they say would be the first general strike by banks in 100 years since the introduction of the modern banking system in the country. At least 50,000 taxis will stay idle starting today and tomorrow as unionized cabbies will join the strike while half of intra-city buses will remain parked, with drivers on the picket line, in six major cities.

Foreign Labor Activists Warned On Intervention

The Korean government planned to take legal action against what officials called "illegal" intervention by foreign labor leaders in the ongoing national strikes. "The government will first warn them of their illegal activities", a senior Chang Wa Dae official said yesterday. Korean officials, expressing personal frustrations over the presences of foreign sysmpathizers at the sites of labor unrest, had not publicly taken issue with the case.

But top administration and ruling party officials almost simultaneously broke their silence on the issue yesterday, accusing both the korean labor groups and the foreign activists. Ruling party Chairman Lee Hong-Koo criticized the Korea Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU) for allying themselves with foreign labor groups and refusing his proposal for a televized debate on the new labor laws.

The delegation members have been attending protest rallies and news conferences with Korean union readers, in which they pledged international support for the Korean workers' efforts to repeal the new labor bills. The four include representatives from the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions(ICFTU) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Kang Sam-Jae, secretary-general of the ruling New Korea-Party, accused the foreign activists of violating international practices, saying that international organizations have only to send documents if they find problems with the Korean labor laws.

The ongoing nationwide strikes are receiving intense international attention, dealing a heavy blow to the Kim administration's globalization and other reform efforts.

Published by the Telecommunication Taskgroup for General Strike (TTGS)

Phone : +82-2-855-1913 E-mail : rys@member.sing-kr.org Homepage : http://kpd.sing-kr.org/strike

Striking Workers, Police Clash In Seoul

January 15, 1997

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- For the second time in five days, the streets of downtown Seoul turned into a battle zone as riot police and striking workers clashed following a rally protesting a new labor law.

The fighting erupted Wednesday after some 40,000 anti-government protesters left the rally at a park and poured into the streets.

With an estimated 12,000 police blocking their way, the demonstrators broke into several groups to march to a nearby Roman Catholic cathedral, where seven union leaders have been orchestrating strikes for three weeks.

The most violent clashes broke out on an eight-lane boulevard running through the capital. Armored police vans fired hundreds of volleys of tear gas into the crowds.

Protesters, some wielding steel pipes, ripped up the sidewalk, broke it into fist-sized chunks and hurled the pieces at police. "(President) Kim Young-Sam, step down," they chanted.

>From a distance, central Seoul looked as if it was blanketed with a
thick fog. Columns of smoke from tear gas and bonfires set by demonstrators billowed into the sky. The boulevard was awash with rocks and other projectiles.

Evening rush-hour traffic came to a standstill, and pedestrians rushed for cover. The clashes carried on well into the evening.

There were no reports of injuries or arrests.

North Korea Role Alleged

Prosecutors hinted that they would soon arrest 19 fugitive strike leaders taking refuge at the cathedral in Seoul and at work sites in the countryside. One leader was arrested overnight.

"If the workers do not stop their illegal strikes immediately, the government will act in a firm and resolute way to protect national security," senior prosecutor Choi Byong-Kuk said in a nationally televised statement.

He also invoked a North Korean threat.

"North Korea is agitating workers to topple the government," he said. "If the unrest drags on, it will give North Korea an opportunity for revolutionary struggle."

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