ITF demands Korea ends union onslaught

The ITF has demanded that the Korean president act to end the government and police onslaught against workers and unions over their right to organise.

This follows an outcry by the ITF, global unions and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) over the attacks on the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union (KPTU) and other Korean unions. The KPTU has been repeatedly raided by police as part of a government assault on the Korean labour movement.

Recent incidents include the brutal arrest of seven KPTU members and the arrest of 51 Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) members and others during a people’s mass mobilisation in Seoul on 14 November. During raids on 21 November on KPTU, KCTU and other union offices, unions claim police seized hard drives and other materials related to union events including the mass mobilisation, the KPTU-TruckSol’s safe rates rally and May Day rallies.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton today wrote to president Park Geun-hye: “The wide-ranging nature of these seizures reveal that these raids were nothing less than an attack upon the Korean trade union movement itself…A chorus of disapproval is being sounded worldwide, and will be raised in important forums such as the International Labour Organization and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

“The ITF and its affiliates will be co-ordinating our response to these latest grave developments with our colleagues in the ITUC, the global unions, and across the international trade union movement.

“There is still time for your government to step back from this dangerous process. The ITF therefore once again urges you to: cease the attacks against the KPTU-TruckSol Pulmuone drivers and the KPTU, including by cancelling arrest warrants and releasing arrested workers; facilitate negotiations between Pulmuone and KPTU-TruckSol; and cease the intimidation of trade unionists that has been clearly evidenced by the police raids on union offices in recent weeks.”

The ITF is urging workers and unions to support the Korean union movement through a new LabourStart appeal at and via Facebook and Twitter, using #kptu.

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