$158.00 donated in past month
View other events for the week of 1/17/2014
Import this event into your personal calendar.
Soldiarity Rally For Korean Railway Workers Union KRWU Against Union Busting And Privatiza
Friday January 17
3500 Clay St/Laurel St
1/17 Soldiarity Rally For Korean Railway Workers Union KRWU Against Union Busting And Privatization Of KORAIL
Friday January 17, 2014 4:00 PM
3500 Clay St./Laurel St. San Francisco
In early December 2013 over 4,000 Korean railway workers of KORAIL went on strike to stop privatization. The Park government suspended the railway workers and sough to arrest the leaders. They also raided the offices of he Korean Confederation of Trade Unions KCTU and arrested 137 trade unionists.
On December 31, the KRWU railroad workers returned to work with a promise that there would be a government legislative investigation about the privatization of the public railways. At the same time the government continues to seek the arrest of the union leaders and is also preparing to sue the striking union members personally.
The KCTU has called for general strikes against this union busting, privatization and for the resignation of the Kim government on January 9 and January 18. The Korean government is also attacking the right of public teachers and public workers from even organizing a union. The US government with the Korea US Free Trade Agreement KORUS is also seeking to privatize the public industries and also deregulate the economy. The Trans Pacific Partnership TPP is also being pushed by the Obama administration to allow the multi-nationals and banks to buy up Korea and other countries in Asia along with a new militarization including the construction of a military naval base on JeJu Island in Korea.
Northern California trade unionists, labor activists and human rights activists will be rallying in solidarity with
the Korean railway workers to demand. American working people demand Hands Off The Korean Workers. This action will co-incide with the KCTU called general strike. Bring your union banners and placards.
Stop Repression and Arrests of Korean Railway Trade Unionists
Stop KORAIL Privatization and Down With the Kim Government
Support The KCTU-KRWU General Strikes
Stop The US-Korea Remilitarization and JeJu Naval Base
Down With The Kim Government
Thursday January 17, 2013 4:00 PM
3500 Clay St./Laurel St.
Initiated by The Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, Endorsed by United Public Workers For Action http://www.upwa.info,
Transport Workers Solidarity Committeehttp://www.transportworkers.org, Answer Bay Area, Labor Video Project, Facts For Working People,
Workers World, Peace And Freedom Party San Francisco
Korea KCTU General Strike 12/16/203 Video
Korea Korail bosses seeking to stick union with the bill for strike-related losses
Posted on : Jan.3,2014 15:09 KST
Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions chant slogans while wearing headbands at a rally in front of the statue of deceased labor activist Jeon Tae-il along the Cheonggye Stream in Seoul‘s Jongno district, Jan. 2. The KCTU leadership started an indefinite hunger strike on this day. (by Kim Jeong-hyo, staff photographer)
Issue of who must pay for hiring replacement workers will hinge on whether or not the strike is deemed legal
By Im In-tack, staff reporter
Korail plans to demand labor union payment for the costs of employing substitute workers during a recent Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) strike. The move is being called an irrational attempt by the government and a public enterprise to make the union pay for personnel decisions and costs. Korail and the government have claimed that hiring is their “exclusive managerial prerogative”.
Speaking in a telephone interview on Jan. 2, a Korail source said on condition of anonymity that Korail “plans to demand the union pay hiring and personnel costs” for 208 substitute workers who were hired during the strike and are currently undergoing standard training.
On Dec. 31, Korail filed suit with Seoul Seobu District Court to demand damages from the union and its members, claiming 15.2 billion won (US$14.5 million) in operating losses due to the strike.
“The 15.2 billion won for the substitute workers wasn’t included [in the claim],” said the source. “Once they’ve finished calculating, they plan to change the bill of indictment to demand more.”
The news prompted an immediate outcry from the KRWU. The argument was that if damages are granted, the union will end up paying out of its own coffers for the company to hire and train 208 scabs.
Previous “public enterprise normalization measures” ordered by the government, which has stressed the enterprises’ exclusive rights of hiring and management, were designed to amend collective wage bargaining provisions that allowed the unions to interfere.
Korail has relied on the military, private groups, and the Korea National University of Transportation to supply substitute workers during past strikes, but the December strike was the first time it had gone to the extent of officially recruiting and hiring replacement workers. The plan was an apparent attempt to push the union into calling off the strike.
Inflation of claim totals has been another running issue. In 2003, courts granted just 3.2 billion won (US$3.0 million) of a 7.5 billion won (US$7.1 million) claim for strike-related damages. A similar case in 2006 had only 7 billion won (US$6.7 million) of the 15 billion won (US$14.3 million) claim recognized.
In the case of a 2009 strike, the corporation initially demanded 9.7 billion won (US$9.2 million), but later lowered the figure to 4,855 million won (US$4.6 million) after subtracting unproven losses and wage payments to striking union members. That trial is still ongoing.
The legality of the strike is another point of contention. The Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act states that for legal strikes, new employees cannot be hired to perform the duties and damages cannot be claimed for strike-related losses.
Angry Union Workers Swarm Seoul’s Streets, Demand President Resign
SATURDAY JAN 4, 2014 1:11 PM
Angry Workers Swarm Seoul’s Streets, Demand President Resign
BY MICHELLE CHEN
Some 15,000 union rail workers rally at Seoul Railway Station on Dec. 14, 2013 to protest a government plan that could partially privatize its high-speed train services. (Woohae Cho/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korea may best be known for slick electronics and saccharine pop tunes, but less of that stereotypical effervescence was present in Seoul in December. Instead, the streets were filled with throngs of angry union workers, facing down riot police in a show of defiance against a government plan that they say would lead to layoffs and privatization.
On December 28, workers staged a one-day general strike that capped about three weeks of intense smaller protests involving thousands of workers and activists and causing sharp service reductions. The establishment of a parliamentary committee to resolve the railway dispute has paused the demonstrations for now. But unions, who see the fight as a broader labor struggle beyond the rail issue, are not giving up and have vowed to keep protesting. On Friday, theydemanded the president's resignation.
In recent months, the government has proposed subdividing and commercializing the national railway, Korail—supposedly a cost-saving measure to deal with the railway’s debt burden and financial losses. Recently, tensions escalated when the government announced plans to split Korail services into separate segments and to create a subsidiary to run part of the high-speed rail service under a separate corporation, which would purportedly stay primarily state-controlled.
Labor activists suspect the claims of financial concerns mask the government’s underlying aim to incrementally privatize the vital public institution, in turn triggering job losses and pay cuts. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) have also argued President Park Guenhye’s administration pushed through the plan without adequate public or opposition consultation. In response to the government's railway proposal, rail union workers voted to go on strike on November 22, launching a wave of public rallies and pickets that grew to flood the streets of downtown Seoul. In mid-December, after the Prime Minister declared the strike "illegal," police began clamping down on union leadershipby issuing arrest warrants and confiscating equipment and documents from several local union offices.
When police then moved on to targeting the headquarters of the umbrella labor organization KCTU, which represents a multi-sector membership of more than 690,000 workers, union activists struck back. Eric Lee of LabourStart reported at OpenSecurity that the activists “formed a defensive cordon but eventually riot police charged the building, smashing down glass doors and firing pepper gas, causing several injuries. There were reports that some of the trade unionists responded with improvised water cannons.”
After the blockade of the KCTU building resulted in 138 arrests of protesters, as Lee put it, “An enraged KCTU leadership issued a call for a million-worker strong general strike." Internationally, meanwhile, labor activists garnered about 14,500 signatures online on astatement of solidarity.
For union advocates, the key goal of the protests now going forward is not to push one particular alternative plan for the railway overhaul, but simply to ensure an accountable decision-making process. On the eve of the general strike day, Wol-san Liem, International Affairs director for the Korean Federation of Public Services and Transportation Workers' Unions (KPTU), which, like the KRWU is part of the KCTU, told Working In These Times, "We're just saying: Halt what you're doing now, so we can have a real debate where all of the parties involved—the workers, the employer, the government and the traveling public—can have their voices heard, put forth their proposals” and then develop a plan through deliberations before seeking the review of the National Assembly. Though the new parliamentary committee may pave the way for such debates, more union actions are planned to keep the focus on broader issues of labor equity and government accountability.
This isn’t the first time militant union campaigns in South Korea have clashed with the government. Last January, KCTU issued several demands for the incoming Park administration, calling for the reinstatement of union members allegedly fired in retaliation for organizing and demanding “enforcement actions against anti-union retaliation by employers and the establishment of company unions.” KCTU has also criticized the widespread exploitation of “dispatch” workers—temporary workers nominally hired by the company through outsourcing, but who essentially do the same work for less pay, without the job security of regular workers.
The unions got a legal boost last March when the Supreme Court upheld a ruling against General Motors Daewoo, declaring that subcontracted auto manufacturing work was actually illegal dispatch work. The violation carried millions of dollars in fines for both the employer and the subcontracted firm.
Of course, sometimes bosses don’t feel like heeding the courts or the unions. In 2012, after a court found that Hyundai Motors had illegally misclassified a full-time employee as a subcontractor, the company refused to reclassify him, instead hitting back with its own lawsuits against several of its plants where protests had broken out.
And the government has taken to simply refusing to recognize some troublesome unions. The Korean Government Employees Union staged a sit-down strike last year before the National Assembly, after the government repeatedly rebuffed its attempts to register as an official union and fired more than 100 members, including the union’s president and secretary general, alleging they were leaders of an “illegal” organization. Similarly, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology threatened in January 2013 to de-register the teachers union unless it amended its bylaws to exclude from its membership retired and dismissed teachers. When the union balked, it was decertified in late October, despite protests from members and international labor activists.
Beyond Korail, the general strike was an explosion of long-brewing resentment from many sectors of Korean civil society, particularly workers who feel left behind by the country’s breakneck development and right-wing regime.
Now that the Korail issues has newly highlighted the government’s anti-union activity and authoritarian tactics, Liem says, there has been a groundswell of public solidarity from students and civil society groups. The protests might even have the potential to bubble into a broader populist movement, paralleling the anti-austerity campaigns that swelled in Europe in 2012.
“There has always been, for the last several years, an alliance between civil society and the labor movement, and that is continuing of course, and I think it will get stronger,” Liem says. Though, like Occupy Wall Street, the movement currently lacks a single agenda or formal political leaders, she adds, “there is potential for that to become the basis of something much larger and hopefully a political leadership will emerge through that process.”
Korea Supreme Court’s ruling thoroughly bans civil servants’ political activities "Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union and the Korea Government Employees’ Union tend to argue that making political expressions and holding assembly constitutes freedom of expression"
DECEMBER 28, 2013 05:59
The Supreme Court found the chairman and other leaders of the Korea Government Employees’ Union guilty, saying that their proclaiming of a national crisis with political purpose and holding a national convention constitutes political activities banned for civil servants. Last year, the Supreme Court also gave guilty verdict to teachers with the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union, who made proclamation of a crisis criticizing the government. The latest ruling goes a step further to that ruling to effectively suggest that civil servants are banned from even holding an assembly supporting such a proclamation, and broadly recognizes the scope of political activities banned for civil servants. The court thus sternly judges that proclaiming a national crisis is a political act, and activities endorsing such a proclamation constitutes political act as well.
Under the Constitution and the National Civil Servant Act, civil servants are strictly obliged to keep political neutrality. The defendants claimed, “The activities were justly conducted by the civil servants’ union,” but the Supreme Court said, “There is a high chance that engaging in political activities could impair fairness in official duty and damage the public’s trust,” in issuing the guilty verdict. The court thus ruled that “Announcing a statement in support of proclamation of a crisis by the teachers’ union against the government with a specific political intent and holding a national convention is a ‘collective act beyond the scope of civil servants’ official duty.”
Members of the Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union and the Korea Government Employees’ Union tend to argue that making political expressions and holding assembly constitutes freedom of expression, but this is misguided understanding. When compared with ordinary citizens, civil servants’ activities inevitably have bigger social impact. If one wants to make political expressions freely, he or she could engage in such activities after giving up the stature as civil servant.
Civil servants with the civil servants’ union and the teachers union, who make political statements at the site of rail workers’ strike or participate in assemblies to proclaim national crises, should take the latest ruling by the Supreme Court very seriously.
The ban on civil servants’ political activities is restriction but it also constitutes a protective measure as well. During authoritarian rules, there were historical precedents that those in political power unjustly mobilized and exploited civil servants. Only when civil servants’ political neutrality is guaranteed, their rank and status as civil servants can be protected from unjust pressure or intervention from political power. Civil servants are service personnel who serve the nation and the public, rather than political parties or administrations.
The National Intelligence Service and the military cyber command severely damaged the constitutional spirit of civil servants’ political neutrality by uploading posts and Twitter messages, which are suspected as constituting their intervention in the presidential election. The civil servants’ union and the teachers’ union are also facing legal actions for conducting illegal electioneering by using SNS, and are undergoing prosecutorial investigation. The Supreme Court’s ruling should serve as a watershed from which government employees solemnly keep in mind the spirit of political neutrality as defined by the Constitution.
KCTU On SF Solidarity Action At Korean Consulate
샌프란시스코 운수노동자 연대, 주샌프란시스코총영사관 앞 연대행동
사회공공성본부조회:57 2014.01.07 15:02
2013년 12월 27일 오후 12시, 미국 샌프란시스코 배이 지역 노동조합 활동가들이
철도파업 탄압, 민주노총 12월 28일 총파업에 연대하는 행동을 전개했다.
북캘리포니아 통합도시교통노조(ATU), 전미서비스노조(SEIU), 미국지방공무원노조(AFSCME) 소속
조합원 20여명은 주샌프란시스코 한국 총영사관 앞에 모여
"철도 민영화 중단하라" "구속 노동자 석방하라", "민주노총 총파업을 지지한다"
등의 구호를 외치며 행동을 하고
아래와 같은 서한을 영사관 측에 전달했다.
<미국 운수노동자연대위원회가 한국정부에 보낸 서한>
주샌프란시스코 총영사관 앞
2013년 12월 27일
운수노동자연대위원회는 전국철도노동조합과 전국민주노동조합총연맹에 연대하여 한국의 노동조합과 노동계급을 사수하기 위해 오늘 연대집회를 개최합니다.
아래는 우리의 성명입니다.
박근혜 대통령은 한국 노동자들의 노동기본권을 노골적으로 공격하여 철도노조 8,000여명 조합원들을 직위해제하고 지도부 여러명을 연행했다.
압수수색영장도 없이 4,000명이 넘는 경찰을 동원해 민주노총 건물을 침탈했다. 코레일 사장은 500명의 대체인력을 고용함으로써 노동자들에게 전쟁을 선포했다.
전국공공운수노조연맹 산하 철도노조 조합원들은, 철도노동자들의 고용을 위협할 뿐 아니라 시민들의 안전마저 위협할 철도 민영화에 반대해왔다. 한국정부는 철도노조만 탄압한 것이 아니라 전교조와 공무원노조의 단결권을 탄압해왔고, 노동자들이 파업을 하면 법적 댓가를 치르도록 하는 법을 지지했다. 이 때문에 많은 노동자들이 파산에 처하거나 스스로 목숨을 끊는 일도 있다.
이러한 정부의 공격에 대해 전 세계 노동조합 그리고 엠네스티 인터내셔널, 국제노동기구, 여타 많은 단체들이 반대의 목소리를 냈다.
한국정부는 미국정부의 요청에 환태평양경제동반자협정(TPP) 체결을 추진하고 있는데, 이 협정은 의료보험 민영화 및 한국경제의 탈규제화로 노동자 민중에게 악영향을 미치게 될 것이다. IMF나 세계은행이 추진하고 초국적기업이 지지하는 이러한 경제정책은 미국에서, 그리고 전 세계에서 노동자들의 사회보장 및 공공서비스 등을 축소했다.
오늘날 북캘리포니아에 거주하는 통합도시교통노조(ATU), 전미서비스노조(SEIU), 미국지방공무원노조(AFSCME) 등 조합원인 운수노동자들은 탄압을 받고 있으며 샌프란시스코 만, 그리고 미국 전역에서 노동조합을 파괴하는 노조파괴 전문 업체들이 동원되고 있다. 베올리아 등 초국적기업은 더 많은 이윤을 위해 코레일을 매입할 것을 검토하고 있다. 이는 한국의 노동자 민중에게 해악만을 입힐 것이다.
일본 국철민영화로 수천명이 해고 되었고 열차 파손, 철도노동자 및 승객의 사망과 같은 안전 사고가 증가했다. 일본 철도노조 중 하나인 치바현국철동력차노동조합은 일본 및 전 세계에서 일어나는 이러한 자본주의의 약탈에 맞서 앞장서서 투쟁해 왔다.
오늘 우리는 민주노총, 공공운수노조연맹, 철도노조에 연대하여, 특히 민주노총의 2013년 12월 28일 총파업 선언에 연대하여 다음을 요구한다.
- 구속 노동자를 즉각 석방하라
- 8000명 철도노동자에 대한 직위해제를 중단하라
- 철도 민영화를 중단하라
- 박근혜 정부는 퇴진하라!
- 북한과 중국을 위협하는 미군의 전초기지기 될 제주 해군기지 건설에 반대하는 투쟁과 연대한다!
- 인간다운 삶과 안전한 노동조건을 지키기 위해 투쟁하는 한국 노동자들의 투쟁에 연대한다!
- 민주적권리, 표현의 자유, 정치활동의 자유를 억압하는 국가보안법 철폐하라!
우리는 한국의 노동자들의 투쟁이 승리하기를 응원한다. 오늘 행동을 통해 한국 노동자들이 혼자만의 싸움이 아니라는 것을 알리고자 한다. 한국 노동자들은 미국에서 자본주의 아래서 억압받으며 같은 이유로 투쟁하는 미국 노동자들과 연대해왔다.
Korean Teachers’ union to keep official status, at least temporarily
Posted on : Nov.14,2013 15:34 KST
Korea Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (KTU) vice president Kim Jeong-hoon presents a court ruling to senior vice-president Lee Young-joo (right) suspending the government’s move to revoke the union’s official status at KTU’s offices in Seoul’s Yeungdeungpo district, Nov. 13. (by Kim Bong-gyu, staff photographer)
Court’s ruling halts government’s anti-union policies for the moment, but final decision on status still months away
By Lee Kyung-mi, staff reporter
A court put a halt to efforts by the government to revoke the official union status of the Korea Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (KTU).
In the view of the court, the government action to revoke the union’s status may be a violation of the law, and could have a negative influence on teaching in the classroom.
The government made its decision because nine of the KTU’s 60,000 members teachers that are currently unemployed. On Nov. 13, the Seoul administrative court (division 13, Ban Jeong-woo presiding) countermanded the government’s decision, ruling that the union will retain its legal status for now.
The ruling came in a petition that the KTU filed against the Ministry of Employment and Labor. “The ministry’s decision may not be enforced until the lower court makes a ruling in the lawsuit in question,” the court said.
As a result of the decision, the KTU will maintain its current status, at least until decisions are made by a lower court and the Constitutional Court in a lawsuit about the legality of the ministry’s decision to revoke the KTU’s official union status.
The ruling puts the breaks on the anti-union policies that began early in the administration of President Park Geun-hye, at least for the moment. It also shows that there was no solid legal foundation for the administration’s concerted efforts to repress labor. The ruling suggests that certain aspects of the administration’s actions were hasty and ill-conceived
■ Putting a halt to ideological anti-labor policies
Until this ruling, nothing had stopped the government from taking action directed against labor unions. There were indications that the government would accept the notification of establishment submitted by the Korean Government Employees’ Union (KGEU), which has more than 130,000 members, but this was rejected in August.
The following month, the government declared that the Korea Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (KTU) is not a legal union, despite its 60,000 members.
In addition to this, government prosecutors conducted a search and seizure operation on the offices of the KGEU on Nov. 8, suspecting the union of interfering in last December’s presidential election.
These are the reasons why experts believe this injunction to be important. “The court put the brakes on government efforts to turn back the clock by denying workers the right to organize,” said Cho Don-mun, professor of sociology at the Catholic University of Korea.
Yun Ae-rim, law professor at the Korea National Open University, noted, “other than Korea, there are no OECD member countries that prevent teachers from forming unions.”
“Labor, management, and the government came to an agreement in 1998 that recognized teachers’ right to organize, but the government did not keep its word. This decision raises the alarm about such government policies.”
Labor activists argue that there is a fundamental difference in the way that former president Lee Myung-bak and current president Park Geun-hye oppress labor. While the Lee administration carried out anti-union policies in the name of the economy, the current administration puts forward ideology and politics as the reasons for these policies.
During the Lee administration, labor issues generally involved conflicts between workers and employers. During the Park administration, however, state institutions have led the attack challenging the very foundations of labor unions.
“This administration adopts a conservative approach to policymaking, and it regards public servants and even teachers as people who must be controlled and managed,” said Lee Byeong-hun, professor of sociology at Chung-Ang University.
“The type of labor oppression carried out by this administration is different from the previous one in the sense that its political decisions are ideologically motivated.”
“It’s fortunate that the court has put a halt to this behavior, even if it is only temporary.”
■ All eyes on results of main lawsuit and appeal to the Constitutional Court
As Lee suggested, the decision by the court merely buys time for the union. It will likely be at least a couple of months before a ruling is made in the main lawsuit that the KTU filed on Oct. 24 to reverse the ministry’s decision along with its petition to suspend execution of the decision. If the KTU loses that lawsuit, it would once again lose its official union status.
Observers are also interested in the results of the petition filed with the Constitutional Court on Oct. 2. In the petition, the KTU took issue with the sections of labor law, including Article 2 of the law about teacher unions, which prevent dismissed teachers from joining unions.
These sections, the union argued, violate the right of equality and the right for workers to organize that are guaranteed in the constitution. The KTU petition also made the case that Article 9 Clause 2 of the enforcement decree for the labor law is actually “a law above the law” that lacks any legal basis.
The ruling by the Constitutional Court will also determine the fate of the government employees union, which has not yet received certification as a union for the same reason as the teachers’ union.
“Considering that we have not raised any other legal questions, we are closely following the results of the KTU’s petition to the Constitutional Court,” said KGEU spokesperson Jeong Yong-cheon.
Another item of interest is how the Committee on Freedom of Association, which is part of the International Labour Organization (ILO), will deal with the lawsuit that the KTU has filed against the South Korean government.
While the court’s decision may have restored the KTU to its former position for now, the union remains on alert. The union is continuing work on a project to switch the method by which members pay their dues. Formerly, dues were deducted from teachers’ salaries, but under the new system they will be paid via bank transfer.
The KTU is also planning to reinforce the organization’s power through elections for chapter heads and representatives, which are scheduled for December.
“We will continue our fight against the systems and customs that conflict with the true value of education, which we have worked to protect for the past 25 years,” said KTU spokesperson Ha Byeong-su.
Added to the calendar on Friday Jan 10th, 2014 8:06 AM
Graphic from Korean general strike. The US government is backing the repression and privatization of KORAIL and this is continued with the KORUS and Trans Pacific Partnership TPP, Obama is pushing