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No Letup in Strikes as KCTU Mobilizes

By Mun Gap-sik (gsmoon@chosun.com), The Chosun Ilbo, 25 June 2003

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) started a general strike on Wednesday, putting a severe burden on Korean industries, including the country’s three automobile manufacturing groups. About 134 labor unions nationwide, with about 66,000 members in total, took part in the strike, the Ministry of Labor said.

The Korea Teachers Union (KTU), which began a strike early on Wednesday, said about 2,000 members, 500 of which were in Seoul, participated in the strike. However, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources said it was less than 500, with only 50 members in Seoul taking part in the walkout.

The participation rate is far lower than the police estimate of 5,000 members (12,000 according to the KCTU estimate) during the confederation’s June 22 strike. The National Health Insurance Cooperation Union also went to strike.

The KCTU also held rallies in 18 regions all over the country, demanding the abolition of the National Education Information System (NEIS). The Korean Public Officials Union’s 500 members also held a rally at Jongmyo Park, demanding three labor rights—to organize, negotiate and to take group action.

The 25,000 day and night-shift employees of the Hyundai Motor Company Union each held a four-hour strike. They plan to hold another six-hour strike and to refuse overtime work for two hours on June 26.

The Ministry of Labor said that the two-day strike is predicted to cause a total of W73.6 billion in losses for Hyundai Motors. A Kia Motor factory in Hwaseong will suffer from W1.2 billion in losses, and Ssangyong Motor will suffer a W3 billion loss, for a total of W88 billion in damage to the three firms, the ministry said.

Furthermore, this strike is expected to affect large-scale manufacturers such as Doosan Heavy Industry, Tongil Heavy Industry, Hanjin Heavy Industry, and Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries. The labor unions of most of the companies are to participate in another KCTU general strike on July 2, which could sink the firms’ export plans.

The Korea Employers Federation (KEF) handed out to its 100 subsidiaries a pamplet, titled A Guide to Labor Union’s General Strike, urging the firms to use all possible civil and legal actions against illegal strikes and to utilize scab labor, apply the no-work no-pay principal, and to take disciplinary punishments, if necessary.