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Bank Strike

Posted July. 10, 2000 17:19,   


With the failure of the second round of talks between the Korean Financial Industry Union (KFIU) and the government, the KFIU today declared a strike beginning Tuesday. A face-off between the parties seems inevitable as the government is also taking a hard-line measure against the first-ever financial strike.

The government estimates that only 20-30% of bank employees, about 10,000 union members, will go on strike. It added that the strike will likely be limited to banks that were injected with public funds, such as Hanvit Bank, Cho Hung Bank, Korea Exchange Bank, and Seoul Bank, along with provincial banks.

On the other hand, the KFIU claimed that more than 30,000 union members nationwide will take part in the walkout. Regardless of the size of the strike, many fear that it will paralyze bank operations. If the strike continues for more than two days, difficulties in computerized networks, export-import and foreign exchange operations are inevitable. As of yet, there have been no reported complications at bank windows.

The tripartite committee of the labor, management and government planned to hold talks this afternoon, but the KFIU refused to participate.

After backing out of the strike yesterday, unionists at the headquarters of Housing and Commercial Bank announced that its nationwide branches have also pulled out of the walkout. Union members at the main offices of Hanvit Bank, Cho Hung Bank and Korea Exchange Bank declared their refusal to participate in the strike, but the KFIU accused the management of rigging the voting.

At least 60-70% of the unionists at Hanvit Bank, Cho Hung Bank, Korea Exchange Bank and Seoul Bank are expected to lead the walkout. Provincial banks will also take an active part in the strike. However, nine other financial institutions, including Shinhan Bank, KorAm Bank and Hana Bank, announced their withdrawal in the strike.

KFIU leader Lee Yong-Deuk said that it is willing to negotiate if the government offers to accept the proposals of the bank unionists, indicating that a wildcard solution to the dispute might be reached overnight.

Meanwhile, participants of the KFIU strike will get together for a pre-strike assembly at Seoul National University and Yonsei University at 8 pm. The KFIU reiterated that it will stage a second round of strikes July 15, if tomorrow¡¯s strike proves ineffective.