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Pres. Lee to Talk to Labor Leaders Before G-20 Summit

Posted November. 08, 2010 10:41,   


President Lee Myung-bak will hold talks with the leader of a major umbrella labor organization just before the opening of the Group of 20 Seoul summit Thursday amid anti-G-20 protests by the labor community and civic groups.

A senior official at the Employment and Labor Ministry said Sunday that the president will speak to Kim Young-hoon, the head of the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. The government is still considering the timing and venue of the meeting, the official said, but the dialogue will likely be held Wednesday afternoon.

The confederation has asked for a meeting with the president for several months. The planned talks are in line with the practice of officials of the G-20 chair country meeting representatives from the International Trade Union Confederation. In Korea, the leaders of the confederation and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions will attend the meeting.

At the gathering, President Lee will likely ask for cooperation from labor ahead of the G-20 summit. The confederation had refused to attend a meeting on Oct. 25 with the president and labor and management.

Despite the planned talks, a series of anti-G-20 protests occurred in downtown Seoul over the weekend. The Korean People`s G20 Response Action, a coalition of 81 civic groups, held the International People`s Conference in Seoul Sunday at Sogang University, saying the Seoul G-20 summit will be “the worst anti-human rights international conference.”

The group will also hold a candlelight vigil in central Seoul Wednesday and a 10,000-person street rally in front of Seoul Station on the opening day of the summit.

For the first time since 2006, police allowed the confederation to hold a rally Sunday at Seoul Plaza in front of Seoul City Hall. Observers say the move was aimed at appeasing the labor community before the summit.

Some 20,000 protesters attended the rally, including those from trade unions under the two umbrella organizations, according to police.

In a statement, the organizers of the rally protested Korea’s labor standards, saying Korea and the U.S. are negotiating a free trade deal behind closed doors under the pretext of the G-20 summit.

Ten thousand riot troops were deployed to the protest venues.

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