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ITF unions support call for public operation of Seoul Metro Line 9

news Press Release

Line 9 is the only major line in South Korea run by a private operator. The Seoul Line 9 Operation Company is a joint venture between the two French companies RATP Dev and Transdev. All other major rail and metro lines in South Korea are publically owned and operated. 

ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton said: “The ITF is concerned that multiple levels of subcontracting have created an unsustainable structure for operating Line 9. The KPTU’s proposal for public ownership of the line is the most realistic to protect workers’ rights and passenger safety.

“The ITF will continue its support for the Line 9 workers’ campaign, which is in line with the ITF’s goal of promoting publically operated and democratically controlled public transport.” 

Every year, the Seoul Line 9 Operation Company pays dividends to its French shareholders worth two to three times its original capital investment. The company makes a profit by cutting costs by reducing the size of the workforce and minimizing investment in rolling stocks and infrastructure. This results in dangerously overcrowded trains on Seoul’s busiest line. Line 9 workers work longer hours than their public sector counterparts under inferior conditions, leading to fatigue and safety risks for the public.

With the RATP Dev/Transdev contract currently under renegotiation, Line 9 workers are calling on the Seoul City government to bring the line into public hands saving costs and allowing for increased investment, improved workers’ rights and better passenger safety. ITF unions are showing their solidarity this week with letters in support of public ownership and operation.

At the 44th ITF Congress in Singapore, 14-20 October 2018, an emergency resolution was passed expressing ‘solidarity with the KPTU campaign for municipalisation of Line 9’ and condemning ‘RATP Dev Transdev’s threats of legal action’ against trade unionists speaking in favour of public ownership and operation. A film about the Line 9 municipalisation campaign was also featured during Congress.


The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) helps create borderless solidarity among transport workers around the world. We support 670 affiliate trade unions in 140 countries, representing 19.7 million workers.

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