Lao Tse (tao@tao.ca)
Sun, 29 Dec 1996 14:36:48 +0000 ()

@@@@@ IIII II II IIII III III @@@ @ @@@ II II II II II II II I @@ @ @ @@ II III II II II II II @ @ @ @ II II III III II II II @ @ @ @ II II II II II II II @ @@@@@@@@@ @ II II II II II II II @@ @@ II II II II II II II @@@ @@@ II II II II II II I II @@@@@ IIII II II II III III

- The alternative newsservice - http://www.tao.ca/wind/ainfos.html

SEOUL, South Korea (Dec. 29) - Some 20,000 workers, shouting ''Down with (President) Kim Young-sam,'' marched on the ruling party headquarters Sunday as South Korea's largest labor protest ever entered its fourth day.

A brief scuffle erupted as workers tried to march into the building, guarded by thousands of riot police, after a rally at Yoido Plaza near the center of Seoul.

The workers were allowed to march past the building, three blocks from the plaza. Each group of marchers stopped to shout anti-government slogans and then marched away.

No arrests or injuries were reported.

The protesters, bused in from throughout the country, were among 373,000 workers joining in nationwide protests called to demand the abolition of a law they fear would threaten their job security.

The 4-day-old strike has crippled hundreds of car, shipbuilding and other plants.

''We will fight and expand our protest until the government retracts the evil labor law,'' strike leader Kwon Young-gil told the cheering crowd at the plaza, where hundreds of white, blue and red anti-government placards fluttered in the wintry air.

Government officials have said they will keep the new law, which they said was designed to help the nation's economy.

Ruling New Korea Party legislators passed it four days ago in a secretive, predawn parliamentary session with no opposition members present. Opposition parties also vow to fight the law.

''Down with Kim Young-sam! Disband the New Korea Party!'' shouted the workers, jabbing their clenched fists in the air.

Party officials drew curtains in the windows and pulled down steel shutters at the main entrance of the 11-story building.

Also Sunday, unionized subway workers in the southern city of Pusan joined their colleagues in Seoul, who had walked off their jobs a day earlier, forcing trains to run late. Non-union workers were called in to help.

The new law makes it easier for businesses to lay off employees en masse, something unheard of in South Korea.

The government had hoped to placate workers and end a long series of labor violence by granting greater rights to unionize. But workers are angry that the new freedoms won't take effect for several years.

Businesses welcomed the flexibility to restructure and lay off workers to help compete in world markets.

South Korea is expected to register a record dlrs 20 billion trade deficit this year, twice that of last year.

The automobile and shipbuilding industries were hardest hit. In addition to the leading car maker Hyundai, three other major automakers - Kia, Ssangyong and Asia - stood idle.

South Korea is the world's sixth-largest automaker, and gets about 30 percent of the world's shipbuilding orders.

But some economists said economic harm from the strike will be held to a minimum because it overlaps the New Year's holidays, when most plants shut down anyway, and the strike could lose steam.

Other key industries, such as semiconductors and electronics, as well as railroads and other utilities, have remained largely unaffected.

The current strife is the nation's first organized nationwide labor protest ever. In the late 1980s, political instability in the transition from military dictatorship to democracy spilled into spontaneous labor unrest, closing hundreds of export plants.

-------------------------------------------------- --/\-- A-Infos A-Infos / / \ \ A-Infos A-Infos ---|--/----\--|--- A-Infos A-Infos \/ \/ /\______/\ http://www.tao.ca/wind/ainfos.html

To Subscribe to a-infos Send a message to majordomo@tao.ca With the message in the body: subscribe a-infos To Unsubscribe send: unsubscribe a-infos --------------------------------------------------