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Countdown on Head-On Collision Between the Laborers and the Government

Countdown on Head-On Collision Between the Laborers and the Government

Posted November. 11, 2003 23:03,   


“Resolute Fight”: Chairman Dahn Byung-ho of the Korean Confederation of Trade Union and their leaders in a press conference on November 11 said, “If the government does not provide special measures to remove its indiscriminate claims for damages and provisional seizures to the labor unions and abolish irregular jobs, we will go on a general strike on November 12.”

The general strike will involve about 120 business establishments and more than 150,000 people: 100,000 people from 100 business establishments of the Korea Metal Workers’ Federation and Korea Chemical Workers’ Federation and 50,000 people from 20 public sector business establishments including the National Railroad and Korean Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union, and others, according to the Confederation.

The Confederation will hold a “resolution rally” in 20 cities nationwide along with the general strike. A related official from the Confederation said, “We plan to keep the rally as peaceful as possible, but if the government tries to stop this, then it will be responsible for the later results.” The Confederation will extend camping sit-ins nationwide and hold separate strikes every Wednesday.

In addition, the Confederation, along with civil organizations, will pressure the government with a pan-national rally against sending troops to Iraq (15th), a national farmers’ rally (19th), large-scale city demonstrations (26th), peoples’ rallies (early December), and others.

The Federation of Korean Trade Unions will also get together for a laborers’ rally in Daehak-ro, Seoul involving 100,000 people from 3,400 national labor union branches on November 23 to demand the abolishment of irregular jobs and to oppose the retrogressive revision of national pension.

“Strict Response”: The government has established a countermeasure for illegal demonstrations in the three steps of “Prevention-Response-Post Management” under the decision that extremely violent demonstrations are degrading the level of foreigners’ confidence in the country and worsening the economy.

The government will not allow rallies of organizations exerting illegal violent demonstrations and will not respond emotionally to the demonstration groups but instead will respond to the illegal demonstrators as strictly as possible. In particular, if the rally of the Confederation turns into a violent demonstration, the government will put every participant and leader under judicial treatment according to the law. Following this, the police has launched judicial procedures such as requesting summons on six group leaders of the Confederation who were involved in the violent demonstrations on November 9.

In addition, the police has decided to issue arrest warrants if they do not appear by 2 p.m. on November 13. The police has requested arrest warrants for 56 people out of 113 people who were arrested at the scene of the demonstration of November 9 and has prosecuted the other 57 people without physical restraint.

Especially, the police has given a notice that interdicts “Resolution Rally for the General Strike to Denounce Roh Moo-hyun Regime that Kills every Laborer” that was to be held at Yeoui-do on November 12 by the Confederation.

Also, the police plans to establish special units solely responsible for arresting demonstrators at the scene who throw fire bottles and to establish investigation squads of two to five troops solely for fire bottle throwers according to different regional headquarters.

Researcher Bae Gyu-shik of the Korea Labor Institute, regarding the concerns of the collision between the laborers and the government, said, “The laborers are thinking that the government has not done a fair job about laborers committing suicide by burning themselves and with irregular jobs, but they will soon lose the people’s support and isolate themselves if they throw fire bottles and continue a violent struggle.”