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Police step up investigation of striking railway union

Police step up investigation of striking railway union

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Published : 2013-12-19 20:09
Updated : 2013-12-19 20:09

Police on Thursday detained a railway strike leader and raided four union offices across the country in an investigation of the “illegal” walkout.

About 15,000 train service workers escalated their protest in a massive rally in Seoul demanding the cancellation of what they call the “privatization” plot and a halt to the police clampdown on unionists.

A union member identified by the last name Yoon was taken into custody on charges of hampering business with an illegal strike. The court issued warrants for the detainment of 25 union members who led the strike, which has damaged the country’s train services.

Investigators seized hard drives and documents at four offices of the Korea Railroad Corp.’s union in Daejeon, Busan, Suncheon in South Jeolla Province and Yeongju in North Gyeongsang Provine, police said.

“We will secure documents that can prove that the union interfered with the company’s operations and other charges against the union,” an officer said.

Despite the government’s final ultimatum to return to work by 9 a.m. on Thursday, the railway workers’ union said it will stage the rally as scheduled and stand up to the government’s oppression till the end.

Some 6,500 unionized workers of the operator went on strike on Dec. 9 in protest of the government’s plan to establish an affiliate under a new bullet train service, which they claim will lead to KORAIL’s privatization.

About 7,900 of the 20,473 union members are currently participating in the strike, including some 870 workers who returned. KORAIL officials said 7,900 were suspended from their positions.

The walkout has already halted 70 percent of freight services, which deliver 80 percent of the coal and 30 percent of the cement in the country. The Korea Cargo Transport Workers’ Union on Wednesday joined the strike and refused to provide substitute cargo services.

“The government should stop at once with oppressing the union and engage in dialogue with the union,” the railway workers’ union said in a press conference.

By Suk Gee-hyun (monicasuk@heraldcorp.com)

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