Friday, December 27, 2013

KORAIL strike: Park Guen-Hye, South Korea's Thatcher

Police raid union offices
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

From what FFWP can determine so far there has been no headway in the negotiations between KORAIL, South Korea’s state run railroad system and the Rail workers’ Union.  Yesterday, union leaders were holed up in a Seoul temple surrounded by police who were threatening to arrest them, warrants have been issued for more than 25 union officials for what the government says is an ”illegal” strike. The government is training strikebreakers for what is the longest strike in South Korean history, more than 8,000 workers walked off the job December 9th.

FFWP talked with a South Korean activist who likened the country’s first female president, Park Guen-Hye to Britain’s Margaret Thatcher. Park is the daughter of the late President Park Chung-Hee.  Both of Park Guen-Hye’s parents were assassinated.

Like Thatcher, Park intends to crush the South Korean unions. Rail workers and their unions have been a major obstacle to the privatization of the railroads over the last ten years.  According to the “official” news agencies, the railroad is losing money; it’s the same argument that is made here in the US about the postal service, one of the most efficient entities in the country delivering mail to every household.

The obstacle to any compromise is the government’s refusal to drop plans for a subsidiary that is intended to run some of the system’s high-speed rail services.  The unions correctly see this as trying to get privatization in through the back door. The rail workers have been supported by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) which has more than 690,000 members and by all accounts, Park’s hard line stand is having a negative effect on her popularity which had fallen to 48% by Friday according to reports. The unions have called a General Strike for December 28th.

The influence of the US capitalist class and its policies cannot be underestimated when it comes to South Korea. The South Korean military for example is completely under the command of the US.  What sovereign nation allows its military wing to be under the direction of another nation?

There are numerous demonstrations taking place throughout the US and other countries in support of South Korean workers.

Facts For Working People blog sends its support and solidarity to the workers of South Korea.

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