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Korea Railroad Sues 187 Striking Unionists

Posted November. 30, 2009 08:45,   


The Korea Railroad Corp. is suing 187 members of its union as the workers’ strike entered its fourth day yesterday.

The company said the union’s “illegal strike” has caused enormous public inconvenience and operating losses of 3.76 billion won (32 million U.S. dollars). It filed a lawsuit Friday against 182 unionists who led the strike and filed another against five more Saturday.

The company claims the strike has cost it 660 million won (561,000 dollars) in lost ticket sales, 2.12 billion won (1.8 million dollars) in lost freight transportation, and nearly a billion won (859,000 dollars) to hire replacement workers.

The railway operator is considering suing for damages over the lost operating income.

Korea Railroad CEO Huh Joon-young ruled out a compromise with the union, pledging to reform “wrong practices and an irrational system.”

An official at the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office said an investigation will start immediately because the strike could have a seriously negative impact on the domestic economy and public convenience.

The union hit back by accusing management of the illegal labor practice of threatening its members, adding it will seek criminal charges if the company’s “illegal” activities cross the line.

The hard-line stances of both labor and management have sparked fears of major disruptions in rail transportation. The corporation increased the operational rate of freight trains from 12.6 percent Saturday to 31.4 percent yesterday, but this was far from normal.

A major container base in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province, has handled around 10 containers a day since the strike began last week, just one-tenth of its usual volume.

A large portion of staff was shifted to freight transportation, so the operation of passenger trains plunged to as low as half of normal levels. Saemaeul-class trains were operating at 59.5 percent capacity, down from its usual rate of 87.8 percent, and Mugunghwa-class trains were running at 63.3 percent, down from 90.9 percent.

The Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Ministry is considering offering standing-room tickets if passengers rush to take the KTX bullet train. The ministry will also rent some 500 chartered buses to transport up to 200,000 passengers if needed.

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