Korean Railway Strike: News and Updates From the Ground

The following is a day by day summary of events as they happened since the strike against rail privatization began. All information and all photos have been taken from the Korean Confederation of Trade Union Facebook page.

Posted on December 3rd:

Daily Strike News
2/3, December 2013

The KRWU is busily preparing for the coming rail strike against privatization. On 30 November, mass rallies were held in five locations nationally in support of the general strike. In Seoul alone, 1,800 KRWU members took part and altogether 7,000 across the country.On 2 December, the union president released his strike instruction to the members. From this day, they will be wearing their strike vest and branch executive board members will take part in sit-down protest during the day. On 3 December, the union held a press conference to announce the strike scheduled to begin on December 9. From 5 December, the branch officials will extend their sit-down protest to the evening and the members will be working to the safety rule.

By December 13th, nearly 7,000 striking workers were laid off

December 14th:

Railway Strike Rally @ Seoul Station on its 6th day. Shin Seung-chul, KCTU president and Lee, Sang-moo, President of KPTU had their hair shaved, in determination for the victory of the strike. Citizens are bringing snacks, drinks and hot pack in warm solidarity.988868_228637403972758_1369604447_n

December 16th:

Arrest warrants for the striking KRWU leaders and search and seizure warrants for the union offices have been issued. Peoples are having candle light vigils in front of the KCTU office.

December 19th:

KRWU President, “The strike will go on unabated” 30,000 railway workers, KCTU members, civil society organization members and average community members gathered in front of city hall tonight to mark the anniversary of president Park Geun-hye’s election and call on her to keep her promise not to pursue rail privatization. KRWU President Myoung-hwan Kim, who must remain in the KCTU office to avoid arrest, addressed the crowd through video conference. Stating clearly that, “the strike will go on unabated” despite the government and Korail’s increasing repression, he called on KRWU members to participate in mass protests and candlelight rallies planned for December 21 and 23.

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December 20th:

As police raid on the KCTU office is near, members gathered at the lobby to defend KRWU leaders…

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December 21st:

Last night workers, students and community members gathered at KCTU after hearing word that the police were planning to raid. Hundreds stayed at the building all night and the raid did not take place. In the morning KCTU officers held a press conference to warn the police and govt that a raid on the KCTU building would be an afront to the whole labor movement and civil society and be met with a united response.

December 22nd:

Leaders of KCTU and affiliated industrial unions preparing for raid in front of KCTU office, supporters are gathered just behind the door.

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December 22nd:

1st: Raid on the KCTU office to arrest leaders of striking KRWU leaders is about to start!!

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2nd: Raid on the KCTU office is about to start…

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3rd: [Raid on the KCTU office] Police broke the glass door to enter. Some are injured.

4th: Some leaders of KCTU and supporters were arrested.

5th: [Police raid on the KCTU office] Peper spray shot out against the supporters when 80 of them were arrested…

6th: This morning, at 09:00, the police invaded on the office of the KCTU , regarding that 6 of wanted leaders of the railway strike are hiding here. 4,600 riot police including 900 SWAT were deployed for it. 800 supporters who were defending the office inside or outside of it. The police broke the glass doors in the front side of the building to enter and sprayed paper spray to the supporters who were staying on the ground floor when the police moved
them out. In the course, around 120 people including some leaders of KCTU and its affiliates were arrested.
The media, especially the conservative ones broadcasted live the raid, with blaiming the legitimate strike and union members. Supporters are still resisting on thr upper floors and it is very dangerous when the police try to arrest them by force on the narrow stairs. The strike is just and legitimate and the office of the KCTU is the center and heart of the democratic labour movement in Korea. This event vividly show the government’s anti- democracy and anti union caractors.

7th: Arrest team is approaching to the upper floors now.

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8th: The police took the 12th floor and more than 100 are still resisting while lots of people are having protest rally outside of the building…

9th: The police invaded the KCTU building by breaking the glass doors without any search warrant but only with arrest warrants for some leaders of striking KRWU. However, it is found that there is NO wanted leaders here!! The police raid is totally illegal!!!!!

And later: Everyone is in safe. The railway strike will continue, and all the KCTU affilates will join by a general strike on December 28!

An article summarizing the police raid: http://www.ituc-csi.org/korean-police-attack-kctu?lang=en

On December 23rd, international solidarity began pouring in:

Action Invitation

1st: “Protest against the suppression on the Korean Railway Workers’ Union
Calling Korean Government to respect labour rights and to free all the union leaders”. HKCTU will organize a protest against the Korean Government to condemn their violation of the right to strike of Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) and to call for release of all the arrested strikers…

2nd: Public Services International is deeply concerned by the attack on the KCTU offices on Sunday 22 December 2013 and the violence used by 4000 police officers, to arrest KPTU and KRWU leaders. Public Services International fully supports the strike action against the privatization of the Korean Rail. The strike is legal and the government is breaking its own laws and international conventions by attacking workers, using massive force and destroying the KCTU building….

3rd: Solidarity action in Hongkong

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Solidarity messages have also been sent from groups in India, Turkey, Indonesia, France and Japan.

December 24th:

This article was posted: “Global Unions Call on Korean President to respect trade union rights”

137 people who resisted the police raid on the KCTU building and were arrested have been released. However, the police filed for a warrant of detention for Kim Jeong-hun 김정훈, the President of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union. The police are insisting that president Kim obstucted the police in the course of the execution of the arrest warrant for the KRWU leaders! However, in reality, he was defending the KCTU office from the police’s ILLEGAL RAID. The court will hold an investigation to determine a warrant’s validity tomorrow.

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and Via Support railway workers’ right to strike in Korea:

A simple way to show solidarity for the Korean railway strike and the Korean labor movement! The Korean on the attached sign says, “I am not fine!” This is now a slogan being used by supporters of the rail strike in Korea to express their dissatisfaction with the Korean government. Korean posters and slogans usually read, “How are you?” “I am not fine!” followed by the reason you are “not fine” (the government’s repression, etc.) Print out the sign and in the blank space write the reason you are “not fine” – that is something you want to stop in Korea.
Examples: Stop “rail privatization”, “arrests of union members”, “arrest warrants for KRWU leaders”, “raids on union offices”, “labor repression”, etc.

Take pictures of your self and other members of your union. Upload them to this facebook page and send them to the following email addresses:
president@president.go.kr
kkw0343@korea.kr
jswphy@korail.com
woo7788@korail.com
kptu.intl@gmail.com

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December 26th:

The court rejected the police’s application for a detention warrant for the KTP president and he is about to be released! It is a matter of course.

We will continue updating via the KCTU’s facebook page as updates occur.

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3 thoughts on “Korean Railway Strike: News and Updates From the Ground

  1. Pingback: Official Statement on the Conclusion of the Korean Rail Strike | solidarity stories

  2. Pingback: Australian solidarity with Korean workers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Police repression of striking Verizon workers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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