16 December 2013 – ITF activists have mobilised in support of striking Korean rail workers, who are experiencing severe government retaliation during their strike, which started on 9 December . Reportedly, charges have already been filed against around 200 Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) officers, and around 8500 workers stand to lose their company rank as a result of participating in strike action.
The ITF-affiliated KRWU called the strike in response to the government’s planned rail restructuring and privatisation, and the lack of public or social dialogue around this policy, despite election promises made by President Park Geun-hye.
ITF unions from all over the world were involved in rallies and demonstrations at South Korean embassies across theglobe during the ITF’s action day on 10 December. Activists in countries from Argentina to Australia, Nigeria to Norway, and Thailand to Turkey pressed South Korean government representatives to respect internationally recognised labour standards and respect the workers’ right to strike. Read detailed reports on separate country activities on our campaign site and check out pictures from reports on ourFlickr page.
ITF inland transport secretary Mac Urata, who is currently visiting Korea on an ITF mission together with affiliates from Norway, New Zealand, the UK and Thailand explains: “We know that privatisation is a global problem, with workers in France also on strike this week. The difference is that Korean workers can face the threat of dismissal and even criminal charges. The Korean government’s attitude must change, and Tuesday’s actions send a strong message to the South Korean government – respect your workers, respect their rights.”