Posted November. 16, 2004 23:05,
Even though the strike of the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) has been continuing until yesterday, the number of strike participants has sharply dropped to 289, 10 percent of that of the first day.
While the government and local government bodies are preparing themselves to punish the participants, union members are showing strong complaints against the union leadership.
Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan ordered at a cabinet meeting held in the central government complex at Sejong-ro, Seoul that in order to maintain strong official discipline, strike participants must be severely punished.
Prime Minister Lee also ordered prompt punishment against public servants in central government departments first which, he stressed, can provide an example in punishing local public servants.
According to the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, the number of public servants who were absent from their duties without notice to participate in the strike yesterday was 289 throughout the nation
Most of them are union members who were either arrested or wanted by the police, said the ministry.
Meanwhile, in Ulsan, where 1,151 members, the highest number, participated in the strikes first day, all branches withdrew from the strike and 1,141 members returned to work. As a result, the operation of public organizations such as Ulsan City Hall and other offices has been normalized.
However, the KGEU decided to continue the strike, saying, About 1,000 union members still remain in Seoul and struggle to obtain our demands
Huh Sung-kwan, minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs, said, We have not changed our original position that core members who led the strike or aggressively participated in it will be dismissed, and just-following participants will be released from office, adding, We are also considering disciplinary measures and criminal punishment at the same time.
Following the central government, local government bodies have also begun to take disciplinary measures against participants.
With nine local government bodies submitting written requests for the punishment of strike participants, Gyeongnam province has decided to hold a disciplinary committee meeting around next week.
In addition, Sim Dae-pyung, governor of Chungnam province, who decided to open a disciplinary committee on November 22 and 23, said, We punish participants severely to the point which the law permits, thereby completely excluding them from government services.
However, some local government bodies seems not to be taking strong disciplinary measures, such as dismissal or discharge, especially against those who returned to work the first day after participating the strike. Instead, they are submitting them to disciplinary measures in a more moderate way.
Meanwhile, Ulsan City Hall said that participants would face a strong disciplinary measure such as censure, under which public servants promotion will be restricted for six months.
With the strike ending up in failure, union members complaints against leading groups in the KGEU have been increasing.
Kang, who argued, The strike must be our last resort. Please dont go on a strike on a network within Ulsan City Hall before the strike, said, I am very sorry that KGEU had a strike without considering public opinion, adding, Now, it is time to return to work and serve the nation.
Furthermore, one netizen, named Iljimae argued on a union homepage of Gyeongnam province that played a leading role when establishing the KGEU that the honor and self-confidence of 900,000 public servants have been seriously tarnished because only a small number of leading members of the KGEU, without asking the opinion of all of the union members, decided to go on a unjustifiable strike. Meanwhile, amid increasing criticism against the KGEU that calls for direct questioning on the leading groups responsibility, a great shift within KGEU leadership seems to be inevitable after the end of the strike.