Korea: unions head for clash with government

Submitted by AWL on 21 July, 2005 - 7:41

Korean trade unions are heading for a clash with the government over its anti-union harassment.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) have threatened a walk out this week.

In April, 825 unionists were arrested during a demonstration outside Ulsan City Hall, and in May 600 trade unionists were arrested during peaceful and legal strike action, taking the total of arrests of labour activists to at least 1425 in the space of 8 weeks, or more than one trade unionist arrest every hour. The arrests targeted union members and leaders of Ulsan Local Union of the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Union (KFCITU), affiliated to the KCTU.

Unions have still not reached agreement with the government over its temporary workers bill. Voting on the bill has been suspended three times since it was presented to the National Assembly last November, and has been delayed again due to growing protests from unions.

The unions are angry over the death of a union official, which took place on June 14 during a rally to call for better working conditions for temporary workers.

Unions also walked out of minimum wage negotiations last week and refused to accept an increase of 9.2%, arguing that it is too low to ensure a livelihood for low-income workers.

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