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Police raid railway union offices as strike continues

Police raided the offices of the state-run rail operator’s labor union Tuesday, as its strike entered the ninth-day, taking a toll on passenger and cargo services.

Korea Railroad Corp. has filed complaints against 190 unionists for impeding business with their “illegal” strike.

Courts issued warrants to detain 10 union leaders including chairman Kim Myung-hwan after they refused to respond to a summons by prosecutors.

About 30 investigators seized computer hard drives and documents at the two offices of the union of in central Seoul, officers said.

More than 6,500 unionized KORAIL workers went on strike on Dec. 9 in protest against a government decision to set up a new rail operator that they claim is the first step toward privatization of the rail operator.

So far, a total of 7,608 striking workers have been removed from their positions for their participation in the walkout and will likely face disciplinary action, KORAIL said.

Subway services in Seoul and the surrounding areas in Gyeonggi Province were partially affected Tuesday, KORAIL said.

The number of trains on Seoul subway Line No. 3 was reduced by an average of around 20 percent, it said.

Commuters in Seoul are expected to experience more disruptions as the labor union of public corporation Seoul Metro, which operates Seoul subway line Nos. 1 through 4, warned of pulling more workers out starting Wednesday morning.

Daily KTX services were reduced by 12 percent on Tuesday, and the operation of the normal-speed Mugunghwa trains were also affected, it added.

The union criticized KORAIL’s plan to establish the affiliate, claiming that it could facilitate privatization, which they say could result in massive layoffs and fare hikes.

The company has denied the claim, saying the new unit will be 41 percent and 59 percent owned by KORAIL and state-run investors, respectively, and that private firms will never be allowed to buy stakes in it.

The new service will run from Suseo-dong in southern Seoul to the southern provincial city of Busan. After several delays, it is expected to begin operations in 2016.

From news reports