Korean Government Employees' Union Newsletter Issue #1
At the 3rd National Congress on September 15th, the KGEU decided to launch an all-out struggle including strikes in October through November.
KGEU Newsletter #1
KGEU's 3rd National Congress
At the 3rd National Congress on September 15th, the KGEU decided to launch an all-out struggle including strikes in October through November. The 279 delegates in attendance, from almost all government organs, ratified the KGEU's all-out struggle plans for the second half of this year and consolidated the list of KGEU Special Collective Bargaining Demands. Participants affirmed their commitment to the larger aims of the struggle: to secure a full guarantee of government employees' basic labor rights, to improve working conditions, and to promote reform so as to purge corruption in the Korean government. The delegates also set the main objectives for this year's all-out struggle as: withdrawal of the Government's draft bill, legalisation of the KGEU, promotion of better working conditions through direct bargaining between the Government and the KGEU, and strengthening the union through struggle.
Following the Congress, the KGEU Central Committee met on September 29th to finalize a more detailed programme and set the dates for the struggle. According to this programme, in the beginning of November, the KGEU will launch a strike that will be unprecedented in Korea's history. In particular, on November 4th and 5th, the KGEU is planning to hold a mass rally in Seoul, which will be a culmination of its struggle. There will be an industrial action ballot in the end of October and the results of the ballot will be announced through a press conference on November 1st with strike-launching rallies nationwide.
Government's Draft Bill
The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs(MOGAHA) drafted a bill titled "the Act on the Establishment and Operation of Government Employees Association." on September 18th, which will be enforced after 3 year grace period. This bill is not much different from the one that the Government submitted, in the late February this year, to the Tripartite Commission, which had proceeded a discussion of government employees' basic labor rights. The KAGEWC, the predecessor of the KGEU, couldn't participate in the discussion, for it's 'an illegal organisation of government employees'. After a 20-day public comment period, this bill will be laid before the National Assembly. According to this bill, any titles containing 'union' or 'labor' are prohibited. The rights to act collectively and to conclude a collective agreement are denied. Only the right to organise will be granted in restricted level. Making any solidarity with other workers is prohibited, which means 'an organisation or an association' is not allowed to get affiliated to any umbrella union, and it couldn't be an affiliate of the PSI. Indeed this organisation or association allowed for in the draft bill has nothing to do with trade unions and basic labor rights, and government employees are not workers at all.
KGEU President Cha Bong-Chun, arrested
On October 3rd, the KGEU President Cha Bong-Chun was arrested. He has been hiding under an arrest warrant since the establishment of the union in March. During his sit-in protest at catholic cathedrals for more than 150 days, he joined KGEU's mass rally and national congress to make speeches asking for immediate recognition of the KGEU and full guarantee of government employees' basic labor rights. He warned in his speech during the rally on May 26th that, if there is no substantial change of the Government stance on government employees' basic labor rights, the KGEU would launch a strike. The police formed a special task force to arrest him since then. He will be detained under a detention warrant in a couple of days.
All KGEU Chairs Rally on Oct. 4th
The KGEU held a rally of chairs of its all chapters on Oct. 4th by the Central Government Building. About 200 chairs of the KGEU chapters nationwide in attendance proclaimed that nothing could obstruct this struggle for full guarantee of government employees' basic labor rights and that the Government draft bill is not for guarantee of basic labor rights but for control and suppression of government employees. After the rally the participant walked along the street to the Central Government Building, in which the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs is, to present a written opinion, which could be submitted to the Government during a 20-day public comment period of a bill. What they faced, however, was hundreds of riot police.
6 KGEU members occupied MOGAHA office for protest
On October 7th, 6 KGEU members occupied the office of the Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs. They proclaimed that the Government draft bill has nothing to do with government employees' trade union or basic labor rights and totally ignores 900,000 government employees' aspiration for full guarantee of basic labor rights. They were arrested in 15 minutes and pulled out of the office. You can see their protest from the attached file and the following address;
Oct. 8th Press Conference by Joint Countermeasure Committee composed of 64 NGOs proclaiming withdrawal of the Government Draft Bill and full guarantee of government employees' basic labor rights
Oct. 9th Workshop on Government Employees' Basic labor rights and Review of Government Draft Bill by MINBYUN (Lawyers for a Democratic Society)
Oct. 17th All KGEU Officials and Shop Stewards Rally in Seoul
Oct. 26th All KGEU Branches' Simultaneous Rallies nationwide
Oct. 28th-30th KGEU's Industrial Action Ballot
Nov. 1st Press Conference launching a strike
Strike Launching Rallies nationwide
Nov. 4th-5th KGEU Mass Rally for Government Employees' All-out Struggle in Seoul
Nov. 9th Workshop on Globalisation/Privatisation and Public Sector Workers Basic Labor rights by PSI Korean Affiliates and PSI-JC
Nov. 10th Annual National Workers Rally in Seoul
Dec. 1st People's Rally
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