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Nat`l Railroad Union to Strike Next Month

Posted September. 17, 2009 08:37,   


The Korean Railroad union under the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions will go on strike next month, collecting an estimated 3.5 billion won (2.9 million dollars) in “bonds for the struggle.”

“We have issued struggle bonds since the end of July to make up for union fees spent on paying damages to management for past strikes and to prepare for strikes scheduled in the second half of this year,” the railroad union said.

The union issued 100,000 (82.80 U.S. dollars) and 200,000 won (165.63 dollars) bonds. Management and the Labor Ministry say the revenue from selling such bonds reach 3.5 billion won (2.9 million dollars) and that 20,000 out of 24,000 union members purchased them.

The biggest reason for issuing bonds was that the union could not afford to pay damages caused by an illegal strike in March 2006 with membership fees. The union went on a four-day strike demanding rehiring for the dismissed and directly hiring KTX female workers instead of through agencies.

Management sued for compensation exceeding 15 billion won (12.4 million dollars) for cancellation of reservations and sales losses. The strike was illegal as it challenged mediation by the central labor committee.

The Seoul High Court ordered the union to pay 6.99 billion won (5.8 million dollars) in damages. If the ruling is confirmed, the amount will be seized from membership fees.

No legal problem bars bond issuance by the union. The vicious cycle of going on an illegal strike; paying damages; seizure of money from membership fees; lack of money for strikes; issuing bonds; going on strike; and suing for compensation clearly demonstrates the reality of the labor confederation.

The railroad union said, “We decided on an all-out strike including a general strike in the second half of the year. The struggle fund (bonds) signifies a backlash preparing for an offensive of railroad workers in response to the seizure of union membership fees.”

In response, the railroad company will sue for compensation for revenue losses for a 24-hour strike of train drivers Sept.8 and a four-hour partial strike of the car department yesterday in violation of collective bargaining rules.