Wednesday, September 24, 2008

[olympiaworkers] Arrests of Korean trade unionists continue

Following a wave of strikes, the South Korean government has unleashed a
massive attack against the Korean Metal Workers' Union targeting more than
75 of the union's key leaders for arrest or investigation.

SOUTH KOREA: With the recent arrest of Hyundai Motor Branch First
Vice-President Kim Tae-gon on September 16 and the arraignment of Jung
Gab-deuk, president of the Korean Metal Workers' Union (KMWU), on
September 18 on charges of obstructing business, members of the KMWU are
bracing for more assaults. Leaders of the Korean Confederation of Trade
Unions have also been targets of arrest.

Arrest warrants were issued on July 24 for KMWU President Jung Gab-deuk,
KMWU Vice-President Nam Taek-gyu, KCTU President Lee Suk-haeng, KCTU First
Vice-president Jin Young-ok, KCTU General Secretary Lee Yong-shik, and all
six of the top elected officers of the Hyundai Motor Branch namely; Yoon
Hae-mo, Kim Tae-gon, Kim Jong-il, Jung Chang-bong, Joo In-koo, and Jo
Chang-min. Search warrants were also issued for their homes.

Reports from KMWU indicate that Vice-President Nam Taek-gyu and the
remaining five Hyundai Motor Branch elected officers are currently in
hiding, while another 70 of KMWU's national, regional and local leaders
are targeted for investigation. KMWU President Jung Gab-deuk has been held
at Youngdeungo Detention Center since his arrest on August 20. On July 27,
KCTU First Vice-President Jin Young-ok was arrested and held before being
released on bail in the first week of September.

Meanwhile, police forces have surrounded the building where KMWU
headquarters and the headquarters of the KCTU are located. All visitors to
the building are searched and interrogated. The government has also
announced audits of the two legal centers used by the KMWU and KCTU.

The government crackdown stems from the union's participation in a July 2
general strike called by the KCTU and the KMWU's strike action in demand
for national-level industrial collective bargaining.

The International Metalworkers' Federation is urging IMF affiliates to
join the International Trade Union Confederation, KCTU and KMWU in
denouncing the South Korean government's actions and demanding that basic
internationally recognized labour standards and worker protections are

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