KMWU rally in Busan to support strike at Hanjin


Thousands of workers from across Korea marched to Hanjin Heavy Industries Yeongdo shipyard and rallied beside union leaders who have been carrying out a sit-in protest against Hanjin's mass dismissals. The dismissal of the 170 workers is in breach of the employment security agreements concluded in March 2007 and February 2011.

KOREA: On April 8 thousands of workers from across Korea including the Korean Metal Workers' Union (KMWU) gathered in Busan to protest mass dismissals and demand comprehensive revision of the Trade Union Labour Relations Act.  The Hanjin Heavy Industries Local of the KMWU has been on strike since December 20 and is calling for the company to:

  • drop criminal and civil charges,
  • withdraw the mass dismissal plan,
  • secure a future for the Yeongdo shipyard,
  • end the lockout,
  • implement employment security agreements and the collective agreement, and
  • replace the members of management who came up with the redundancy dismissal plan that provoked the dispute.

Currently, there are arrest warrants for four of the union leaders, one is imprisoned and the company is suing the workers for 5.3 billion worth of damages relating to this strike and lockout, in order to pressure the workers into giving up their strike. Under Korea's penal code 314, companies are allowed to file criminal charges and wage exorbitant lawsuits against unions and their members for "obstruction of business". The International Labour Organisation's Committee on Freedom of Association has repeatedly urged the Korean government to abandon penal code 314 recognizing that it is a violation of Convention 87.

The KMWU and the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) call on unions around the world to send solidarity letters to the workers on strike which include the three aerial sit-in protesters: KMWU Busan-Yangsan's Regional Branch Chair MUN, Cheol-sang, KMWU Hanjin Heavy Industries Local Chair CHAE, Ghil-yong who have risked their lives and jobs to show their protest on crane 17 since February 14, 2011, and union member Ms. KIM, Jinsook, who has been on crane 85 since January 6, 2011.