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Bro. Lee Suk-haeng, President KCTU arrested

Worker repression in Korea

Bro. Lee Suk-haeng, President KCTU was arrested at 10:40 pm, December 5th by Korean police. He was arrested for organizing an "illegal" general strike on July 2nd, 2008 and solidarity struggles to support the E-land Retail Precarious workers strike in 2007.  The July 2nd general strike was conducted to call for protection of people's right to health and safety. The stoppage also sought renegotiation of the April 18 Protocol on US beef imports to Korea to reflect food safety concerns.

For several months now the E-land Retail precarious workers union has been on strike in protest against the termination of contracts and illegal subcontracting by the employer. The company has acted to evade provisions in the new irregular workers bill that was given effect by the Korean Government on the 1 July 2007.  The KCTU has organized various solidarity actions to support the E-land Retail Shop precarious workers strike.

Bro. Lee Suk-haeng has been charged with the "obstruction of business" provision in section 314 of the Korean Penal Code for the role he played in the July 2nd General Strike and solidarity actions for E-land Retail precarious workers.

The KCTU believes that workers organizations should be able to use strike action to pursue solutions to problems posed by social and economic policies.

The International Labour Organisation(ILO) urges that no one should receive criminal sanctions or be deprived of their liberty for exercising the right to strike.  The ILO has continuously recommended that the South Korean government "adopt a general practice of investigation without detention of workers and bring section 314 of the Penal Code (obstruction of business) in line with freedom of association principles."

This is a grave crisis for unionists and workers in Korea. The KCTU needs our support.

SIGTUR needs your help to urge the South Korean Government to stop trade union repression.

The Korean Government is called upon to implement and fully respect ILO recommendations on principles of freedom of association. Investigations in Korea should be made without the detention of workers.

The immediate release of Bro. Lee Suk-haeng is required.