In December, South Korea was rocked by a massive strike of rail workers that lasted for 22 days.
The strike, led by the Korean Rail Workers’ Union, opposed the introduction of private companies into the state-owned rail network.
Early on in the dispute, the government declared the strike illegal and issued arrest warrants for the union leadership, who were forced into hiding. The rail union had its offices raided and its computers confiscated.
Police attempted to break into the headquarters of the KCTU union federation but were fought off by a large crowd of workers. The repression generated broad support for the strike, including from students who organised “flashmob” demonstrations outside public buildings.
The strikes have been called to a halt in response to the creation of an official committee to review the rail situation. Nevertheless, the government is still taking legal measures to further victimise the union and its members. International solidarity will be important in the coming weeks.
The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has called a solidarity protest outside the South Korean Embassy in London, 10am, Thursday 16 January.