The following statement was issued by the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee on December 27, 2013 in support of the Korean Confederation of Trade Union’s general strike and the Korean Railway Workers Union’s fight against railway privatization.

To The Korean Consulate, San Francisco – December 27, 2013

The Transport Workers Solidarity Committee is rallying today in solidarity with the KRWU and the KCTU to defend these unions and the working class of South Korea. The following is our statement:

In a flagrant attack on the trade union rights of the Korean labor movement, South Korean President Park Geun-hye has fired over 8,000 striking KORAIL Korean Railway Workers Union KRWU workers and arrested many of their leaders.

Without even a warrant, the offices of the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) were raided after mobilizing over 4,000 police. The hiring of 500 strikebreakers by KORAIL CEO Choi Yeon-hye is a declaration of war against the entire working class.

The Korean railway workers who are members of the KRWU and Korean Federation of Public Services and Transportation Workers’ Unions (KPTU) have been opposing the privatization of the national railway, which would not only threaten the jobs of railway workers but also threaten the health and safety of the workers and the public. The Korean government action against the railway workers is not an isolated case. The
government has repressed teachers and other public workers for organizing unions and has supported laws that make workers personally liable to lawsuits if they go on strike. This has led to the bankruptcy of large numbers of workers and even suicides.

These attacks have been opposed not only by the labor movement of the world but also by Amnesty International, the ILO and many other organizations. The South Korean government with the urging of the US government has pushed forward with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which would privatize the national healthcare system of Korea and force further deregulation of the Korean economy harming workers and the public. These economic policies pushed by the IMF and World Bank and backed by multi-nationals have cut workers’ social benefits and public services through privatization in the US and around the world.

Today in Northern California, transit workers represented by the ATU, SEIU, AFSCME and other unions are under assault and union busters have been hired to break their unions and lay the basis to privatize the public transit system in the Bay Area and around the country. Veolia and other multi-national corporations have their eyes on buying KORAIL for greater profits. This will only harm the Korean railroad workers
and the people of Korea.

The privatization of Japan Railways led to the layoff of thousands and a growing health and safety crisis including wrecks and deaths of workers and passengers. The Japanese railway union, Doro-Chiba, has been leading the fight against these depredations of capitalism in that country and around the world.

Today in solidarity with the KRWU-KPTU and the KCTU, which has declared a general strike in Korea on December 28, 2013, we make the following demands of the South Korean government:

  • Immediate release of all jailed trade unionists in Korea!
  • Immediate lifting of the suspension of all 8,000 KORAIL workers!
  • Halt plans to privatize the KORAIL system!
  • The resignation of the Park Geun-Hye government!
  • Solidarity with the struggle against the building of a military base in Jeju Island, establishing a US military outpost to threaten China and North Korea!
  • Solidarity with the Korean working class fighting to defend their decent living and safe working conditions for them and the public!
  • Smash the National Security Laws used to suppress democratic rights, free speech and the right to form a working class party that represents their political interests.

We support the victory of the working people in Korea. Today we let them know that they are not alone. They have solidarity of working people in the US who face the same struggles and same capitalist oppression as they do in Korea.