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Korea Exchange Strike May Be Imminent

Posted July. 25, 2006 03:53,   


The Korea Exchange (KRX), which is in the midst of controversy over a rumored politically-favored nomination of a permanent auditor, announced that if its labor union initiates a strike, it will resort to drastic measures such as taking disciplinary actions against the leaders of the union and suspending the stock market.

However, tensions are escalating with the union declaring that it will start the first partial strike on midnight of July 25 if the government and the KRX push forward the appointment of a pro-ruling party, 386-generation, former student activist auditor. On July 24, KRX Management Support Office Chief Lee Jeong-hwan held a press conference at the KRX headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul, and stated, “Preparing for a possible strike waged by the union, we have organized an Emergency Market Measures Committee chaired by KRX Chairman Lee Young-tak.”

According to the emergency measures, if the union starts a strike, company officials above the division director level and outside contractors will be fully used to prevent the interruption of stock transactions.

Chief Lee Jeong-hwan also warned, “It is illegal to wage a strike for personnel appointment issues. If a strike begins, personnel in essential key posts will be ordered to return to work, and if they refuse to follow the orders, they will be liable for both criminal and civil lawsuits.”

Around 7:30 p.m. on the same day, the KRX held a committee to recommend candidates for board of directors in an unknown location in Seoul. It is reported that CPA Kim Young-hwan, the same person rumored to be politically appointed, will be the sole candidate to be recommended by the committee.

The KRX will hold a shareholders meeting on 11:00 a.m. on July 25 and reach a final decision on the post of permanent auditor. Belonging to the 386-generation and a former student activist, Kim has worked as the policy team chief of former Seoul mayoral candidate Kang Geum-sil and is known to have close friendships with young lawmakers of the ruling party.

The union announced that if the committee decides to appoint Kim, it will strike at the first tick on midnight of July 25, leaving only about 100 workers, or the minimum number of required workers, to manage stock transactions.

It also added that it will prevent the shareholders meeting to take place on July 25, and if Kim is appointed despite their actions, they will expand the strike, which will not leave any single union member in their workplace.

KRX Union leader Lee Yong-guk warned, “The union does not want the situation to reach the worst, but if Cheong Wa Dae and the KRX management push forward an unreasonable covert politically-favored appointment, we have no choice but to commence a strike. If the stock market halts, all the responsibility should be borne by Cheong Wa Dae, politicians, and the puppet management.”

The KRX union called the attempt to appoint Kim as an auditor as Cheong Wa Dae’s secret favor-returning appointment, and it has been holding all night sit-in protests for 14 days.

Wan-Bae Lee roryrery@donga.com