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Latest from Korea 5th November: Govt workers on strike!
Policy & Information Center for International Solidarity (PICIS)

5th November, 2002

Korean government workers stage strike for the first time in history!

Attack on Government Workers' rally! Statement from KGEU
Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU)

The Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU, President Cha Bong-Cheon) -the hope of 900,000 government workers - is angered, together with the people of Korea, at the outbreak of police violence at the peaceful pre-rally ceremonies that were taking place at Hanyang University. We are angered at the police who intruded the ceremonies, at the indiscriminate violence and the apprehension of union members. We demand, in the name of the 900,000 government employees and the citizens of Korea, the immediate resignations of the Chief of the National Police Agency and the Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs, the immediate release of the arrested leaders and the 600 members who were apprehended.

The intrusion of riot police into the peaceful and legal pre-rally ceremonies held by the government workers yearning for banishment of corruption and for reformation of public services, the indiscriminate beating and kicking with batons and shields, and the dragging of collapsed people as if they were dogs, are all brutal actions that find no match in any part of the world. As we witnessed many members bleeding and being taken to the hospital, we saw the dark historical fate of this regime.

We realised, as our bodies were being trampled upon and our heads cracked by batons, once again that those black army boots were trampling upon the fervent hearts of the 900,000 government employees who yearn for banishment of corruption and for reformation of public services. The batons they were waving were directed at the eyes of the whole nation who long for a clean government and public administration that serves the people.

Today, the police also indiscriminately apprehended several members solely for the reason that they had come to the police station to meet the apprehended members. No matter how brutal the government's suppression, we will not give in but will unite even more strongly. We will fight to the end to attain labour rights of government employees which are our basic right and duty.

Our struggle has just started. The government must realise that the rightful actions of the government workers will not be subdued, whatever method it may use to suppress us. Also, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs must realise that outlawing legalisation of the government employees' union is something that goes against the flow of time. The evil public employees act must immediately be withdrawn, the KGEU should be officially recognised and the government should answer our demand to dialogue on the reform of the public employees act.

Also, we demand that the government respect the National Government Workers' Rally that is to take place today, the 5th November, and should there arise any unexpected situation, the responsibility lies with the government. The Vice-president of the PSI, Kataoka Katsyuki, visited Korea to participate in the rally, and personally witnessed the violence committed by the police and expressed grave concern. We warn the government that we will form strong solidarity with international labour organisations, and that the only way for the Korean government to avoid worldwide shame is by granting the union a legal status.

5th November, 2002
Korean Government Employees Union

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