18 May, 2023Unions in Korea are being subjected to serious repression by authorities, where restrictive definitions in the labour law mean that everyday trade union activities are being criminalized. KMWU is calling for a warning strike on 31 May.
President YOON Suk-yeol’s use of union-bashing rhetoric and illegitimate use of public prosecutors and police to attack unions has set a national tone that is echoed on the ground in workplaces across the country with increasingly violent attacks against trade unionists.
On 4 May, a manager of ILJIN Hysolus, which is a supplier of Hyundai Motor and BMW, rammed his car into local trade union leaders hitting three of them and causing serious injuries to the union’s vice chair.
On May Day, Yang Hoe-Dong, a district leader of the Korean Construction Workers Union (KCWU), tragically set himself on fire to protest harassment of trade unionists by government authorities. Yang, one of the victims of that harassment, sadly passed away from complications of severe burns.
On 17 May some 40,000 trade unionists mobilized in Seoul to protest the YOON administration.
The Council of global unions has condemned the recent attacks, judicial harassment, and interference against the legitimate activities of trade unions and the rights of working people in South Korea.
In response to the orchestrated campaign against unions, IndustriALL affiliate KMWU is calling for a 4-hour warning strike on 31 May. Members are asked to down tools for four hours and to take to the streets in Seoul and other regions to call on the government to cease the current attacks on labour rights and unions.
KMWU is urging the government to immediately stop harassing the unions and instead establish constructive, stable industrial relations where workers’ rights are protected.
“The government in Korea is pushing a negative public image of unions which has detrimental consequences for the workers. Organizing is a right and not a crime,”
says IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie.
IndustriALL supports KMWU in its struggle to end the climate of fear and intimidation that unions in Korea are currently subjected to and call on affiliates around the world to join the solidarity campaign.