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Winter Struggle of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions

Winter Struggle of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions

Posted November. 26, 2004 23:22,   


The Korean Federation of Trade Unions went on a six-hour general strike on November 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in 398 business establishments under their federation with their five demands including the elimination of the temporary worker bill.

The federation announced that there were 156,000 union members with an overall 600,000 participants in the general strike, including 42,200 from Hyundai Motors, 25,600 from Kia Motors, 110,000 from the Korean Metal Workers Federation, 9,650 from the Korea Federation of Chemical and Textile Workers, 3,100 from the Korean Construction Workers Federation, and 3,300 from the Korea Federation of Transportation, Public, and Social Services Workers.

The strike caused delays in manufacturing industries. Hyundai Motors announced that it has experienced delays of 5,600 cars amounting to 80 billion won in value, and Kia Motors announced delays of 3,447 cars (47.6 billion won).

The Ministry of Labor reported that there were 67,000 participants in the strike from 118 establishments based on their statistics.

Lee Su-ho, president of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions, spoke to the general strike participants (12,000 individuals, according to the federation) gathered in front of the National Assembly building that afternoon and said, “We have formed a general strike in order to prevent more numbers of temporary job positions,” adding, “If the National Assembly tries to carry out the bill increasing temporary positions, we will go on a stronger general strike on December 2.”

The Korean Federation of Trade Unions went on strike with an initiation ceremony in each business establishment on the morning of November 26, and held general strike resolution gatherings in 15 nationwide locations in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, Lee Su-jong, president of the National Tower-Crane Union, and four other representatives of organizations for the temporary jobholders have gone on an indefinite general strike on the top of the 50-meter high tower crane at the construction site of the extension of the National Assembly library with their slogan of “Abolish the Temporary Worker Bill.”

The government rules this strike as illicit and will apply strict punishments to the participants and the leaders of the strike. This will lead to a clash between the two forces of the government and the union members.

It seems very difficult for the Korean Federation of Trade Unions to carry out an indefinite-period general strike scheduled next month. Even if the temporary worker bill is put on the table on November 29, the governing party seems unlikely to carry it out strongly. Therefore, those going on strike have a weak cause, especially in the face of strong criticism from the public.

Jong-Hoon Lee Ji-Won Jun taylor55@donga.com podragon@donga.com