Death toll in ferry sinking tops 150 as hope dwindles

KORAIL plans gradual return to normal service

KORAIL plans gradual return to normal service

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Published : 2014-01-02 20:17
Updated : 2014-01-02 20:17

The state-run train operator is expected to bring KTX and freight train operations back to normal by Jan. 14, as political parties agreed to form a parliamentary subcommittee to assure there would be no privatization of the firm.

The labor union of Korea Railroad Corp. returned to work on Tuesday after ending its 22-day strike in protest of the government’s plan to set up an affiliate to run a new bullet train service. The union claims the plan is a step toward privatization of the firm that could lead to excessive market competition, a fare hike and job insecurity.

KORAIL will run subway trains at normal levels starting Monday, officials said. The company operates subway lines No. 1, 3 and 4 jointly with Seoul Metro, while it is the sole operator of the Bundang, Jungang, Gyeongchun and Gyeongui lines.

The unionized workers on Monday pledged to call off the strike as the ruling Saenuri and main opposition Democratic parties agreed to set up a parliamentary subcommittee under the transport ministry.

The signed paper is seen as a government measure to assure it would not push for privatization and show its willingness to form a communication channel with the workers.

Despite the agreement, the possibility of KORAIL and its workers mending fences in the near future is bleak, as the laborers called it “the beginning of another fight.”

“We will continue to protest and fight at the workplace over the government’s excessive clampdown,” a KORAIL union member said during a rally held before they returned to work.

The prosecution kept its hard-line stance against key figures of the union, vowing to act in accordance with the law and its principles.

Police are currently searching for the remaining 29 of the 35 union leaders for which court warrants to detain them have been issued. The other six workers voluntarily turned themselves in, police said.

The union spokesman said the leaders, including its head Kim Myung-hwan, did not plan to appear before police for questioning. Kim is believed to be hiding in the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions’ headquarters in Seoul.

Some 8,700 strikers, excluding the union leaders, all returned to work, according to KORAIL. The company said it would follow through with its plans to hire a total of 660 contract crewmen and sub-engineers who applied as substitutes during the walkout.

KTX operations on Thursday remained at 73 percent of the normal levels, while cargo train services were at 30.1 percent.

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

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