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Korea: union offices raided

20 January, 2023The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) had their offices raided twice this week, by the National Intelligence Service (NIS), alleging that members of KCTU violated the National Security Act.

On 18 January, the NIS and the national police of Korea raided the office of the KCTU for 10 hours, alleging that two KCTU members from Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU) and Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union (KHMWU) violated the National Security Act. 

The KCTU central executive committee members held a press conference on 19 January 2023, in protest of the raid. The very next day, 20 January, dozens of NIS agents raided the 13th floor of the KCTU head office building for hours.

Through loudspeakers, the police addressed people in the streets saying that the search and seizure were underway at the KCTU for violating the National Security Law. The contents of the warrant are also being circulated through the local media.

These attacks are happening under the newly elected Korean president, from the conservative People’s Power Party, Yoon Suk-Yeol. Yoon has taken a hard line towards trade unions. He recently turned down the demands for a minimum freight rate from 25,000 truckers, members of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union, Yoon issued an order instructing truckers to return to work.

KCTU have criticized the use of the draconian law and question this high-profile smear campaign, aided by hundreds police officers, intelligence officers and the use of unnecessary firefighters' equipment. One thousand police officers were deployed nation-wide to investigate the alleged security breach.

“it is devastating to see a democracy that has been built up for decades being trampled upon by a democratically elected president. The United Nations human rights bodies have repeatedly recommended that the government repeal the law. This hyper-publicised NIS operation was not only disproportionate but also intended to intimidate the trade union movement.”

said KCTU president YANG, Kyeung-Soo

“IndustriALL Global Union calls on the Korean president to stop the intimidation against democratic unions in Korea. we urge president Yoon to focus on the unions’ demand on labour law reform” 

said Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary.