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KORAIL unionists end strike, return to workplaces

Unionists of the state-run railway operator KORAIL on Tuesday ended a 22-day walkout and returned to their workplaces.

However, they vowed to continue their struggle against the government's approval of the establishment of a KORAIL affiliate, which will run the new bullet train route out of Suseo in southwestern Seoul from as early as 2015.

"All union members returned and resumed their work as of 11 a.m. We will go back to our normal duties before the strike," said Choi Eun-cheol, spokesman of the union on the day.

But Choi said that they will continue to disapprove KORAIL's plan, which they believe would eventually lead to the privatization of the train service, creating massive layoffs and great inconvenience to the service users. The unionists will also consider taking legal actions against the management, which imposed disciplinary measures against those who participated in the walkout.

The strike that kicked off on Dec. 9 has brought the country's railway service on halt, resulting in military and public service workers’ replacing the vacuum to avoid traffic fiasco.

The cessation of the strike came after the unionists, government and political circle on Monday agreed to set up a subcommittee on rail industry development consisting of the same number of lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri and main opposition Democratic parties. The committee can form an advisory panel to include officials from KORAIL and experts, to ensure no rail privatization takes place.

The umbrella Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said it respects the railway workers’ decision, but that it will carry on the plan to hold three more general strikes on Jan. 9, 16 and 25 against the politically and socially sensitive agenda.

By Bae Ji-sook (









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