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Union leaders continue defying police summons

Union leaders continue defying police summons

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Published : 2014-01-02 15:03
Updated : 2014-01-02 15:03

Leaders of the state-run rail operator's labor union have no plans to appear before police to face questioning over a recently-ended strike by thousands of its members, the union spokesman said Thursday.

The longest-ever rail strike in South Korea ended on Monday when rival parties cut a deal with the labor union of state-run Korea Railroad Corp. to form a parliamentary subcommittee on preventing the privatization of rail services.

Despite the dramatic closure, police vowed to continue with executing warrants issued against a total of 35 KORAIL union leaders for defying summons and failing to appear in time to testify.

"There is no decision made yet whether the union leaders, who are on a police wanted list, will voluntarily appear before police," union spokesman Choi Eun-cheol told Yonhap News Agency.

Only six out of the 35 people voluntarily turned themselves in, police said, adding that union chief Kim Myug-hwan, co-chief Park Tae-man, and Choi are still at large.  The three are reportedly hiding at the headquarters of the militant umbrella labor union the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, as well as Jogye Temple in downtown Seoul.

The nation's police chief once again reiterated that police will deal with illegal acts in accordance with the law and principles.

"The law and principles must be respected to establish a healthy society and normalize irregularities," Lee Sung-han, the head of the National Police Agency said during a New Year's message.

Some 8,700 unionized KORAIL workers began the walkout on Dec. 9 in protest of a government plan to create a subsidiary to run some high-speed train services, which they claim is a precursor to privatization.

The eight-member subcommittee, which was established with the aim of backing up the government's assurances of no rail privatization, continued with its meeting at the National Assembly on Thursday.

The committee, including eight lawmakers from the rival parties, will be active for the next three months until the end of March under the supervision of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, which is in charge of the railways, lawmakers said.

At the same meeting, the committee will decide whether to establish a policy advisory panel, lawmakers said. The panel, including officials from KORAIL, its union, the government and civilian experts, would support the subcommittee's work in discussing various thorny issues, they added.

Meanwhile, KORIAL president Choi Yeon-hye asked employees, who had just returned to the workplace to push forward with dramatic reforms.

"It is time for radical reforms and renovation amid fierce competition in the rail industry," Choi said during his New Year's message to employees. (Yonhap News)

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