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KCTU stages massive rally in downtown Seoul, demands suspension of restructuring

KCTU stages massive rally in downtown Seoul, demands suspension of restructuring

Posted November. 12, 2000 19:22,   


Some 20,000 workers of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) demanded that the government discontinue what they termed ¡°new liberal¡± restructuring and its attempt to revise the labor laws for the worse in a massive rally at Taehangno Street in downtown Seoul, Sunday.

The rally of the progressive KCTU or ¡°Minnochong¡± resulted in some 10 workers and policemen injured in a clash between unionized laborers attempting to bring in wooden clubs and steel pipes and police troops.

After the assembly, participating workers marched through the downtown streets to Myongdong Cathedral, sporadically clashing with police and causing tremendous traffic confusion in the heart of Seoul.

During the rally, labor unions from all industries under the wing of the KCTU resolved to compete voting by Nov. 29 to determine whether to stage a general strike, heralding a full-scale walkout toward the end of the year.

KCTU Chairman Dan Byung-Ho claimed in a speech that scandalous collusion between politicians and businessmen and corruption ruined the economy, but the government was attempting to shift all responsibility onto workers.

If the government presents the detrimental revision bills for labor laws, including the abolition of the monthly leave system, to the National Assembly in December, the KCTU will immediately launch an all-out struggle, he claimed.

The Construction Industrial Federation under the wing of the KCTU plans to stage a general strike Nov. 29 to protest the liquidation of leading construction firms such as Dong-Ah Construction Industrial Co. in a corporate restructuring program.

The conservative Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), or ¡°Nochong,¡± led by chairman Lee Nam-Sun, also plans to hold a nationwide workers¡¯ rally Nov. 19, to launch an electric labor unions¡¯ strike Nov. 24 and to commence a general walkout Dec. 8.

In particular, the two major labor organizations -- the KCTU and the FKTU -- have agreed to jointly cope with restructuring in the public sector by holding a joint rally of unionized workers of public corporations Nov. 26, beefing up their struggle against the government.

Meanwhile, the FKTU Saturday declared an all-out war for the discontinuation of ¡°unilateral¡± restructuring after officially deciding on the suspension of discussions at the tripartite committee of labor, management and government in a meeting of representatives from labor groups by industry on Saturday. The FKTU¡¯s abandonment of the discussions has made solutions to pending labor issues such as the reduction of working hours increasingly difficult to reach.

Chairman Lee said that the FKTU would suspend its activities in the committee, which is not expected to create substantial results. If the committee fails to play its role as a social representative apparatus in the days to come, the federation will kick off a struggle to disband it, he added.

Kim Joon-Seok kjs359@donga.com