The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions went on strike July 20, 2016. Across South Korea, over 50,000 members of KCTU-affiliated unions participated in this strike at 250 work sites in 14 regions. In Seoul, 10,000 workers came together in a rally to demand the end to the Park administration’s on-going enforcement of unjust labor contracts, expansion of the irregular labor force, crackdown on labor movements, and the government’s plans to implement performance-based termination systems across the public sector.
The Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) specifically raised the issue of the performance-based termination system. The chair of KRWU, Yeong-hoon Kim, stated, “The reality behind the ‘performance-based termination system’ is that it is a process to make way for privatization of the public sector. Plans for privatization of the rail industry have already been confirmed for July.” Kim also warned that railway workers will go on a strike if the government does not stop efforts to privatize public institutions and services. The last time KRWU workers went on strike was three years ago.
On July 22, another KCTU-affiliated union, The Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU), launched the largest strike since 1997. 150,000 workers of KMWU participated in the strike demanding reform of the corporate conglomerates, termination of the government’s unilateral restructuring of labor forces, guarantee of adequate living wages, etc. Workers of Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors, General Motors in Korea, Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Heavy Industries made up the 150,000 workers who went on strike. In Seoul, workers of KMWU demonstrated in front of Hyundai and Kia headquarters as well as the Korea Development Bank to make their demands.
KCTU also announced that it will continue the fight by waging another strike in September and mobilizing a mass people power demonstration in November. KCTU plans for the mass people power demonstration to be held on November 12 with over 200,000 people participating.
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