May. 29  2023
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Railway worker strike and mass rallies against the South Korean government

Monday afternoon, Yeouido, Seoul: Thousands of farmers, workers and students held a rally in front of National Assembly to protest the plans of South Korean government to privatize the railroad net.

Source  :  BASE21

by Christian / Base21 Media Activists

Monday afternoon, Yeouido, Seoul: Thousands of farmers, workers and students held a rally in front of National Assembly to protest the plans of South Korean government to privatize the railroad net. Originally the rally was planned for to protest against FTA but because of police brutality against striking workers it turned into a massive demonstration of solidarity for the striking railway workers.
Last Saturday thousands of riot cops stormed the campus of Yonsei University, attacked and arrested around 1,500 railway workers.

But the reality shows the government that until now its policy of opress the union isn’t successful: Transportation across South Korea is disrupted since Saturday. Only 1,241 out of 5,635 striking railway workers returned to work Sunday. Only 60 percent of scheduled passenger trains and 8 percent of cargo trains ran Sunday, according to an official at the state-run Korean National Railroad.

On Monday nearly 86 percent of the workers continued their walkout for the third consecutive day, ignoring the ultimatum from the government. Even the subway services linking the wider Seoul metropolitan area to the central part of the capital affected.

“The strike by the railway workers is seriously hurting the logistics flow and will eventually bring damage to the nation's exports by delaying deliveries of imported raw materials for manufacturing, the Korea International Trade Association said”, conservative South Korean Press, like Hangook Ilbo whined.

In the meantime, the National Assembly passed a bill late Monday afternoon to transform the state-run railroad organization into a public corporation, despite the plan being the main source of conflict between the unionized railway workers and the government. And this is exactly the reason why KCTU called for strike.

To protest against South Korean government’s policy of using force against the union and striking railway workers since Saturday afternoon a sit-in struggle on Yeouido in front of National Assembly take place. On Sunday more than 100 migrant workers, members of ETU-MB (Equality Trade Union - Migrant’s Branch) hold a rally there and showed their solidarity with the strike of railway workers. Kabir Uddin an activist of ETU-MB said in a powerful speech: “We not only have to see our issue, we also have to be together with Korean workers. We’ll support the struggle of railway workers and of course you have all our solidarity!”

Meanwhile Monday’s protest in front of National Assembly ended with massive riot police attacks against the demonstrators. A student, injured during the attacks: “This is Roh’s workers friendly policy? Just they show us their real face! Never we’ll believe their promises anymore!” In an earlier interview Jeong Kyeong-eun, a deputy director of KCTU: “Even they’ll hunt all of us we’ll not give up our struggle against privatization. We’ll not make any compromises.”

Meanwhile unionized truck drivers are mulling a solidarity strike to support the strike by railway workers, “heralding a second national distribution crisis”, Yonhap reported.

"We are seriously studying ways to advance our strike from the earlier-set mid-July to early July in order to protest the government's crackdown on the railway strike by force and back the railway workers struggle," the Korea Cargo Transport Workers Union, which completely paralyzed the South Korea's imports and exports with its strike last month, said Monday.

Here you can see videos about the attack against striking railway workers in Yonsei University last Saturday:

Migrant workers supporting the sit-in struggle

Monday on Yeouido…

…anti-FTA rally…

…turned into…

…a powerful solidarity demonstration.

Riot cops are attacking the demonstration (photo by Kim Young-seol)

Police victim
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