Four leaders of the state rail company's union have been indicted on charges of spearheading an illegal strike and inflicting financial losses to the firm, prosecutors said Thursday.
The leaders of the union of state-run Korea Railroad Corp.
(KORAIL), including its head Kim Myung-hwan, are under suspicion of playing leading roles in the strike that disrupted the national rail system for more than three weeks, the longest such strike ever.
"It was a political strike that was launched against the government. It (the union) abused three labor rights guaranteed by the Constitution," said an investigator at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors' Office.
Prosecutors alleged the four colluded with 8,673 union members to start the illegal strike, by claiming that a government plan to establish a subsidiary to run some high-speed train services is a precursor to rail privatization.
"The strike caused 44.7 billion won (US$39 million) in losses to the firm and 27 safety-related accidents occurred during the walkout," the investigator added.
The union leaders voluntarily turned themselves in to police after defying police summons and taking refuge in several groups in different locations even after the strike ended on Dec. 30.
The union claimed its leaders had not been fleeing police and had only been discussing unresolved issues such as the management's disciplinary measures against unionists who participated in the walkout.
Hundreds of KORAIL unionists face tough disciplinary measures for their participation in the strike, which protested the government plan to set up a subsidiary.
Despite a dramatic closure after rival parties cut a deal with the KORAIL union to form a parliamentary subcommittee on preventing the privatization of rail services, police and prosecutors have vowed no leniency toward those who led the walkout. (Yonhap News)