Streikende Arbeiter in Süd-Korea bitten um Hilfe.

Communards sammler at
Thu Dec 21 13:56:09 MST 2000

When did you visit last time?

Dear Comrades and Friends,

we just received the following e-mail and would like to ask you to support the
action of our comrades from Korea.



December 21, Thursday, Seoul -- After coming to Seoul from Pusan, Taegu,
Kyunggi, and other provinces across the country, Korea Telecom Trade Union
(KTTU) members have been sitting, standing, eating, and sleeping in the
freezing cold for the past four days outside Myongdong Cathedral. They're
on strike to oppose privatization and structural adjustment.

Bundled up in winter clothes, 18,000 union members have been unwaveringly
maintaining strike ranks day and night, in rain and even snow, sharing 10
portable toilets and without any adequate shelter. At night, tired and
weary union members crowd under thin plastic tarps to try to sleep and
stay warm. But because the police have blockaded the area surrounding the
Cathedral and stopped union members from bringing in materials to build
temporary shelters, an overwhelming number of union members sleep outside
with no shelter whatsoever, shivering in damp sleeping bags and leaning
huddled together for warmth. For meals union members have been eating box
lunches or instant noodles. Persevering in unity to carry on with the
strike, union members haven't left the Cathedral grounds once they've
gotten there.

Under these exhausting conditions, strike ranks, which began with 5,000
members before the strike began, quickly grew to 18,000, counting just
those sitting-in at Myongdong Cathedral. In all, some 22,000 union members
are on strike across the country.

Korea Telecom Trade Union, Korean Federation of Transportation, Public &
Social Services Workers' Unions (KPSU, the federation to which KTTU is
affiliated), and the national center Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
have held continuous strike programs to keep up workers' spirits,
including speeches, workers' songs, workers' dance groups, an occasional
comedy routine, etc. Rank-and-file workers have participated in the
programs by getting up on stage and sharing their talents, as well.


This is a historic struggle for Korea Telecom Trade Union and the Korean
labor movement. It is KTTU's first strike ever, and it is firmly based in
rank-and-file rage over the employment insecurity and efforts to weaken
trade unions that have resulted from the government's unilaterally imposed
structural adjustment plan. This strike is the first of its kind and scale
in opposing structural adjustment in a large state enterprise.

Following the breakdown of a round of working negotiations begun Sunday,
Korea Telecom Trade Union entered strike Monday morning at 9:40am from
Myongdong Cathedral where 7,000 union members had gathered from across the

After 2 full days of strike, during which strike ranks at Myongdong
Cathedral swelled to 15,000 members, the union and management reached an
agreement Wednesday morning. The agreement included the following:

- To discontinue forcing workers into "honorary retirement" (a disguised
form of mass layoffs through which the workforce was to be reduced by
3,000, even after having laid off 12,000 employees in 1999). In the
future, honorary retirements to be implemented only upon labor-management

- To abolish the company's workforce pooling system that puts workers on
hold until they are called back or decide to leave.

- To form a special consultative committee on privatization with equal
representation by labor and management.

- To halt the compulsory donation drive to amass a retirement fund from
workers' own pockets.

- To implement partitioning and spin-offs through consultation in a
special committee on structural adjustment and to halt implementation of
spin offs of information centers, phone line repair and maintenance, call
centers, and line installation.

Yet, after stalling through the afternoon on signing the negotiated
settlement, the company went back on its word and withdrew the agreement.
Under extreme pressure from the Ministry of Planning and Budget, the
company reversed its decision, insisting that rather than halting its
unbundling plans, it would only delay them until a later time. Thus, the
union was left with no choice but to continue the strike into the third
and fourth day.

Though there has been concern about whether the union would be able to
continue the strike in the face of such difficult circumstances, there has
been no attrition in participation by rank-and-file members, rather
growing participation, and their steady determination has led the choices
that their leadership must make.


12. 17. Sun. 15h00 (strike eve) - 5,000 KTTU members assemble at Myongdong
Cathedral for a rally and sit-in. Unionists continue gathering at
Myongdong Cathedral so that by dawn the next day, there are 7,000.

12. 18. Mon. morning (day 1) - KTTU launches an all-out strike. A total of
22,000 union members walk off their jobs.

12. 19. Tues. evening (day 2) - Strike ranks at Myongdong up to 13,000.

12. 20. Wed. morning (day 3) - Union and management reach an agreement,
but after stalling all day, the company ends up refusing to finalize the
agreement. KTTU continues the strike.

12.21. Thurs (day 4) - Strike ranks at Myongdong up to 18,000 with a total
of 29,000 union members on strike.

Urgent Appeal for Action

Please fax or email a protest letter to:
President KIM Dae-Jung
Fax: +82 2 770-0202
Email: webmaster at

JEON Yun-Churl, Minister of Planning & Budget
Fax: +82 2 3496-5010
Email: nara at

Copy to:
Korean Federation of Transportation, Public & Social Services Workers'
Fax: +82 2 497-0444
Email: kpsu_international at

Sample Protest Letter

[Name of your organization] stands in full support of the strike by Korea
Telecom Trade Union to oppose the KIM Dae-Jung administration's neoliberal

Korea Telecom Trade Union is engaged in a just struggle against
privatization and structural adjustment. [Name of your organization]
believes that so-called "structural adjustment" should not follow the
logic of sacrificing workers through downsizing, contractualization,
unbundling, etc. for the sake of making a mainstay state enterprise more
attractive to foreign sales.

Police forces have been blocking union members from bringing in portable
toilets and tents to Myongdong Cathedral, and have even threatened to
prevent box lunches and drinking water from being brought in. Such
treatment of union members engaged in a just strike is unconscionable and
inhumane. It must not be tolerated in a society which calls itself

[Name of your organization] urges President KIM Dae-Jung and the Minister
of Planning and Budget JEON Yun-Churl to respect the agreement reached by
Korea Telecom and the union and to recognize the union's concerns over
forced structural adjustment and privatization.





Fax or email

Korean Federation of Transportation, Public & Social Services Workers'
Unions, KPSU

Ko-Yung Building, 2nd Floor
301-28, Sungsu 2-ga 3-dong, Sungdong-gu
Seoul, 133-123, KOREA
Tel: +82 2 497 7888
Fax: +82 2 497 0444

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