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Labor sector sees this week as turning point

Posted December. 03, 2000 20:14,   


The labor sector which experienced two delayed rallies by the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) labor union and the break up of the joint movement for last Nov. 30, has decided to hold protest rallies as the KEPCO labor union will start its walkout starting on Monday.

Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) will hold a meeting of officers and representatives on Monday morning to discuss on the future protest direction and the warning rally and other walkouts in designated companies will be held together with the Seoul Station rally.

An FKTU official revealed that the joint rally will be the largest for this year with more than 40,000 participating in the event and demands will be made to cease the government¡¯s restructuring process and guarantee the livelihood of laborers.

Airlines and subways, which are directly linked to daily activities, are also anticipated to take part in the rally from this week.

500 Asiana Airlines pilots will hold a voting for the holding of a walkout on Tuesday if their demands for approval for the set up of an independent pilots trade union is not accepted. If a walkout is decided, it will start from Nov. 7 at 6:00 am. As of Sunday, 408 pilots have submitted their letters of resignation to the labor union and are preparing for a walkout. The Korean Air pilot trade union had earlier executed a walkout in October, causing havoc in the airline sector, which led to the acceptance of their demands for enhanced conditions and an independent trade union.

In addition, the labor union at the Metropolitan Railway Corp., which runs subway lines 5, 6, 7 and 8 also resolved to hold a strike to demand the increase of personnel as line 6 has been opened. As FKTU will hold a full rally on Nov. 8 and KCTU expected to join hands in the protest effort, a traffic chaos is expected. This is will be the turning point of the protest movement. The walkout by the railway labor union, which was expected on Nov. 15, may be pushed forward depending on the situation this week.

However, as the leader of the protest rally -- KEPCO labor union -- has no experience in walkouts and the general public support the restructuring of the public sector, there is still room for a change in direction. The one-year deferment of the spin-off sales agreed by the National Assembly¡¯s Commerce, Industry and Energy Committee may be a rejection of the labor union¡¯s request but as the opposition is not on the privatization itself but on the process, the walkout may be ceased within a short time.

In addition, as KCTU¡¯s main focus for the rally being the reduction of work hours will most probably not be dealt with at the National Assembly session this time around, the joint rally lacks justification. That¡¯s why the Korea Metal Workers Federation, an umbrella trade union of the KCTU, is not showing pro-active intent in participating in the walkout. Previously, KCTU had been planning to hold a rally at the same time the labor law bill goes into the National Assembly and had been lukewarm in joining the FKTU¡¯s walkout slated for Nov. 8.