Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype

IndustriALL Global Union Congress supports struggle against South Korean government’s crackdown on unions

7 October, 2016On 7 October, IndustriALL 2nd Congress adopted a solidarity resolution calling for an end to the South Korean government’s vicious attack on workers’ rights and democracy by weakening labour legislation, criminalizing protest and imprisoning trade union leaders.

President of IndustriALL affiliate Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU) Sang Gu, told the Congress that the government is removing laws protecting workers and calling it labour reform. Workers and unions are under attack, and the South Korean government is not adequately guaranteeing freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining agreements.

In 2015, the government of South Korea proposed changes to labour legislation making it easier for employers to dismiss workers, impose low wages and increase the use of precarious work.

On 21 November 2015, one week after a major union rally protesting against the proposed legislative changes, the government sent riot police to raid the offices of a number of unions including IndustriALL affiliate Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).

Korean police have investigated, arrested and jailed dozens of union members and leaders in the current crackdown. KCTU President Han Sang-gyun and Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union (KPTU) Vice-President Cho Sung-deok, were sentenced in July 2016 to five years and two years in prison respectively, for their participation in the recent protests.

Dong Jin from IndustriALL affiliate Korean National Electrical Workers Union (KNEWU) told the Congress that the union and its members were fighting back against the repression, and called on IndustriALL and its affiliates to lend their support to the struggle.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan says that IndustriALL and its affiliates stand strong in their support for the Korean workers:

We call on the government to immediately stop its attacks on trade unionists and withdraw regressive labour reforms.

In a solidarity resolution adopted by IndustriALL 2nd Congress, IndustriALL

  • demands the government of South Korea respect workers’ fundamental rights, withdraw the proposed anti-worker changes to labour legislation and release all imprisoned trade unionists
  • expresses its solidarity with South Korean workers and their unions in fighting back against the government attack
  • commits, together with its affiliates, to work with Korean unions, the International Trade Union Confederation and other national and global unions to support this struggle and escalate pressure on the government of South Korea to agree to our demands