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S Korea: KCTU leads 120,000 on strike

AFP, Reuters via ProletarianNews 10:02pm Mon Nov 4 '02 (Modified on 6:42am Tue Nov 5 '02)

AFP (with additional material by Reuters). 5 November 2002. 120,000 workers strike in South Korea: labor union.

SEOUL -- Tens of thousands of South Korean workers launched a nationwide strike Tuesday to protest the government's labor policy, a militant labor union said.

"A total of 120,000 workers at 166 workplaces nationwide including Hyundai Motor walked out as of 1:00 pm (0400 GMT)," said Sohn Nark-Koo, a spokesman for the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).

"There is no compromise. We'll fight until the government scraps the malicious new labour system," said another KCTU union official, who declined to be identified.

A Hyundai Motor union official confirmed the country's largest automaker and key exporter began a 10-hour strike from 1:00 pm.

"Workers are now holding a rally in the company compound. They will later take part in a downtown rally," a Hyundai Motor union spokesman said from the company's main plant in the southeastern city of Ulsan.

Sohn said the strike could be extended indefinitely until workers were assured that parliament would shelve three government-introduced labor laws including an amendment on the basic labor law.

The environment-labor comittee of the National Assembly is scheduled to review the controversial bills later Tuesday.

KCTU said the proposed amendment introducing the five-day week in South Korea would not improve working conditions. Though it reduces the work week, it also cuts pay and vacation, the union argues.

KCTU also denounced the government for going back on its earlier promise to allow government employees to organize themselves into labor unions under the wing of the KCTU.

Police said 600 strikers were arrested overnight for breaching a ban on public sector work stoppages.

On Monday, Labour Minister Bang Yong-seok said the government, which does not allow public servants to form unions, would take stern action against strikers.




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