9 January 2014 – Support for the Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) and for Korean workers’ rights continued unabated today, as representatives from the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC), British unions and Amnesty International joined the ITF in protest at the Korean embassy in London, UK.
Representatives from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), Unison, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and Prospect were among those who attended.
This protest followed yesterday’s rally in Melbourne, Australia. The Australian protest was led by ITF affiliates the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union of Australia (RTBU).
The protests were held to coincide with today’s general strike rally in Korea, the second of three organised by Korea’s national trade union centre (KCTU). The KCTU arranged these general strikes in response to the continuing oppression of workers, following the police raid of their headquarters during the recent railway strike.
Police used excessive force, searching and seizing union records from rail union offices during the 23-day strike – the longest in Korean rail history. Some 490 workers are under threat of dismissal from rail company Korail, and further disciplinary sanctions against others are anticipated. Korail has made civil and criminal claims for damages against the union leadership totaling almost KRW7.7 billion. The entire union leadership is facing arrest and three regional leaders have already been detained.
The next KCTU general strike rally is scheduled for Saturday 18 January.
Mac Urata, ITF inland transport secretary, said: “The ongoing ill-treatment of railway workers is of huge concern, and it’s absolutely crucial that the international community, as well as those in Korea, keep showing their support for workers. The Korean government has no place to hide. We will continue to support the KRWU’s campaign against rail privatisation.”