Union leaders from banks and financial business across the nation vote unanimously to enter a general strike at a meeting held at the Federation of Korean Trade Unions building in Yoido, Seoul, yesterday.
Expressing discontent with the government's plan to work out its own labor-law revision bill, the nation's two powerful labor organizations yesterday intensified their threats for a general strike next month.
The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU, an unauthorized but influential labor organization, filed a package of reports on labor-dispute occurrences in 338 businesses nationwide with the Ministry of Labor Affairs.
The KCTU, which groups 929 trade unions with some 500,000 unionized workers nationwide, said the filing of the labor- dispute reports means an impending of a massive strike of some 270,000 unionists.
"The government is trying to revise the nation's labor laws towards benefiting the employers, disregarding unions' demands,'' said Ho Yong-ku, vice chairman of the KCTU. Ho said the filing of more reports on labor-dispute occurrences in the remaining trade unions, including the largest single unit trade union of Korea Telecom Co. affiliated with the KCTU, will be ensuing soon.
As to the time schedules for its planned nationwide strike, the KCTU said all member trade unions across the nation will vote for a strike simultaneously on Dec. 4. Though failing to elaborate on the exact date for the general strike, KCTU vice chairman Ho said it is likely to fall on around Dec. 10.
The Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU, the nation's largest labor organization with some 1.7 million union members across the nation, also made sure again that it will enter a general strike next month.
In a press conference held at the FKTU headquarters in Yoido, Seoul, chairman Park In-sang said the labor body remained unchanged in going on a general strike against the government regarding the on-going labor-law revision. "If the government sticks to the position biased toward the management side in the name of the nation's competitiveness, we have no choice but to rely on the general strike,'' Park said.
The FKTU head also vowed that the planned strike will turn into a "political struggle'' against any political parties who support the government's "biased bill.'' "In the upcoming presidential election, all trade unions affiliated with the FKTU will launch a campaign against any candidates or parties supporting the biased labor-reform bill,'' Park said.
A few hours before the FKTU's press conference, the coalition of trade unions at banks and other financial institutes nationwide decided to go on a general strike to protest against the government's labor-reform drive.
It is the first time the coalition of financial businesses nationwide has threatened to enter a general strike since its establishment 36 years ago. Calling for the repeal of the government's plan to legalize the layoffs of financial employees in its labor-reform bill, some 280 trade union leaders unanimously agreed to strike if the bill is submitted to the National Assembly for approval.
Some union officials said the strike date will likely coincide with the FKTU's strike date, allegedly around mid- December. The FKTU now plans to file its package of labor-dispute occurrence reports on behalf of its member trade unions with the labor ministry Dec. 2-3. Meanwhile, the labor ministry immediately refused to process the package of labor-dispute occurrence reports filed by the KCTU, saying that their planned labor disputes are beyond the laws.
Ministry officials also warned that any illegal labor disputes, including the planned general strike by the labor organizations, will be sternly dealt with by the laws.