Go to contents

Police disperse striking unionists; normalizing operations take time

Police disperse striking unionists; normalizing operations take time

Posted December. 27, 2000 18:57,   


Riot police launched a blitzkrieg raid Wednesday morning to break up a sit-in rally by some 7,500 striking unionists of Kookmin and Housing & Commercial Bank (H&CB), who are protesting the government's plan to merge their banks. The strike was being held at Kookmin's training center in Ilsan, north of Seoul.

Despite earlier fears, there were no violent clashes because the unionists did not put up much resistance to the police troops, who used a comparatively calm and controlled operation to disperse them.

Prior to the police action, Han Jin-Hee, chief of Ilsan Police Station, presented a court issued warrant for confiscation and search to the training center director at the front gate.

Then, about 7,000 riot police troops from 51 companies of the Seoul District Police Agency and Kyonggi District Police Agency, including one company of policewomen, stormed onto the center and took control of the facility in just 20 minutes. It took two hours for the police to send all the striking workers out of the center.

Police mobilized two helicopters to distribute leaflets urging the bank union members to disperse voluntarily and went into action.

Police failed to arrest about 10 union leaders, including Lee Kyong-Soo and Kim Chol-Hong, chairmen of the trade unions of Kookmin and H&CB, respectively, because they had secretly withdrawn from the site earlier. The police were issued by arrest warrants for them.

However, they did apprehend seven members of the Korea Financial Industry Union who allegedly led the strike by unionists. They were taken to the police station for questioning.

The unions of the two banks had prepared for the police action by ordering its members to gather with all their personal belongings at 6:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, some 500 of the 2,000 union members who sneaked out of the rally site beginning Tuesday afternoon assembled again at the Central Education Center of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions in Yoju-gun, Kyonggi Province to prepare their second sit-in protest there.

Citing the migration, government officials and industrial observers expressed concerns over the possibility that the strike may continue.

The leaders of the two unions declared that the strike at Ilsan training center was finished for the moment, but that they would continue their struggle through a new strike in a different location. They said that the union members would never return to work unless the merger plan is cancelled.