Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tragic death of a union leader

I'm sure some of you have heard by now about the death of Kim Tae-wan, head of the Chungju branch of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU). He was run over this week while he and other labor activists were trying to block trucks that were being driven by replacement drivers at Sajo Remicon, a cement company where truck drivers have been on strike for a collective bargaining agreement and representation under the labour standards act. Cement truck drivers are considered self-employed small businesses and thus labour standards don't apply in the traditional sense.

Here's the link to the original KOILAF article (here) and a column in the Hangyoreh (here). The FKTU also has a story and picture up on their site (here). Apparently this incident took place in broad daylight. The driver says in his police statement that he was unaware that anyone was in front of him at the time. Activists are calling for an investigation into the incident and what the police on the scene did at the time. The FKTU are not known for militant activities, not that any degree of labour militance should ever provoke a reaction such as this, but it is even more surprising that it happened in this case.

In other news. It seems the Migrant's Trade Union was denied accreditation last week. No surprise there. Their leader Anwar Hussain is still in jail, you can read more about this on the blog here and here for the petition. In terms of other stories we've featured, it seems the bill on non-regulars workers still has chance of passing unaltered so the KCTU has established a contingency plan to commence an indefinite full-fledged strike from June 20 if the bill is passed at the Sub-Committee for Bill Deliberation of the National Assembly. More on the nature of the bill here also. Finally here is something more academic, a paper by Martin Hart Landsberg presented at a Democratic Labour Party event in March. Hart-Landsberg has written some great stuff on the Korean economy and labour relations. Here's the link.

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