Published : 2013-12-28 12:38
Updated : 2013-12-28 14:54
|KORAIL spokesman Jang Jin-bok holds press briefing on rail strike in Seoul, Saturday. Yonhap|
The company said it will also push for legal actions to demand compensation for financial damages and seek criminal punishment for the union leaders.
The labor union strongly condemned the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport for issuing the controversial license, saying it is "a declaration of war" against the people. The ministry is in charge of the railways.
"The government ignored the labor union's efforts to resolve the conflict without negotiations to abruptly issue the license in the middle of the night," KORAIL union chief Kim Myung-hwan said in a briefing at the headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions in downtown Seoul.
Kim said his union will immediately submit a lawsuit to nullify the government decision, saying the hasty license issuance has "procedural flaws" and is "illegal."
If the license is not revoked, Kim warned that the labor union will continue the strike throughout the year, calling for government, management and labor circles to continue to discuss the privatization issue.
In response to the deepening conflict, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won convened a meeting of Cabinet members of related ministries to discuss ways to deal with the prolonged strike during the peak year-end season.
Among them were ministers of finance, transport, labor, justice, home affairs and industry, according to government officials.
During the meeting, Chung stressed that establishment of an affiliate company is not aimed at paving the way to privatize the state rail operator, pledging to sternly deal with the illegal strike, officials said.
"The government tries to adopt the competition system despite the labor union's opposition because it would ultimately be good for people," Chung said. "I'm asking the people to support the government policy and endure the inconveniences for a little longer."
He also called for law enforcement agencies to sternly deal with violent strikes as labor circles pledged to hold large rallies in the capital city throughout the weekend.
His remarks come as the weeks-long strike has caused a major disruption for commuters and for cargo transportation, in particular.
Passengers across the country experienced inconvenience after KORAIL was forced to cut passenger train services by around 24 percent for the fifth day in a row on Friday.
The daily amount of cargo shipments has dropped to an average of 30 percent of the normal volume, stoking concerns over the impact on the shipping industry. (Yonhap News)