KCTU Declares Solidarity General Strike
Railway, Power Plant, Gas Workers Strike
At 4:20 in the morning, February 25, the leaders of the Korea Railway Workers Union, the Korea Power Plant Industry Union, and the Korea Power Engineering Workers Union, announced to the waiting journalists, that the three unions have, as of 4 a.m., began a joint strike. Later, the Korea Social Insurance Trade Union also went into strike.
The strike followed the breakdown of final round of negotiations between the union and the management at the respective utilities. The final round of negotiations began late evening following the three unions, aided by the general secretaries of the two nation umbrella organisations of trade unions, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, met with the Labour Minister.
At the short 'central bargaining' between the unions and the government, it was agreed that the unions and the management of the three major public utilities would attempt to reach a last minute agreement.
The all-night negotiations lasted beyond the agreed limit of midnight, till 3:30 a.m. The leaders of the three unions met with the leadership of the national umbrella organisations and drew the conclusion to strike. The Korea Social Insurance Trade Union joined the strike at 9 a.m.
Railway workers, power plant workers, gas corporation workers gathered in various university campuses to maintain their strike. Striking railway workers, who are dispersed across the country, converged in Seoul, Pusan, Daejon, and Youngjoo, totaling more than 11,000. More than 90% of power plant workers from over 30 (coal-powered) power generation plants gathered at the Seoul National University. More than 90% of gas corporation workers joined power workers at the university. The some 4,000 members of the Korea Social Insurance Trade Union also joined the other striking workers at the Seoul university.
At 4 p.m., 12 hours into the strike by the three public utilities union, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions decided, at a special meeting, to call for a general strike on February 26, from 1 p.m.
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