Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Filipino workers call for a stop to trade union repression in South Korea

August 11, 2008

His Excellency Lee Myung-bak
President, Republic of Korea
Blue House
Seoul , South Korea

Filipino workers support the call to stop trade union repression in South Korea

The Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines) expresses its solidarity with the South Korean workers who are now the subject of relentless attack from the Lee Myung-bak government.

In particular, we are deeply concerned about the conditions of the top leadership of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and its affiliates who were illegally arrested and for those who are still subject of police manhunt. We firmly believe that the Lee Myung-bak government had grossly violated their basic human and trade union rights.

We likewise believe that the South Korean government cannot simply resort to such brutal actions against the KCTU without circumventing its own laws and disregarding international covenants on labor rights and standards. And that was done by declaring KCTU’s legitimate strike against the April 18 Protocol on US beef importation and other trade union issues ‘illegal’, thus giving the government the legal cover to launch a crackdown on trade unions opposed to that policy.

Fighting against what workers believed are policies inimical to its socio-economic and occupational interests – as in this case the issues of food safety and health hazards and trade union rights – can always be valid unless otherwise declared by the government as nonsensical demands. In fact, it was with great pride that Korean workers stood up against the proposed US-Korea FTA and other policies which they believe endanger their rights, safety, well-being, and their future.

On this ground, we would like to convey this message to the Korean government: that the international labor movement would always support and likewise assert the validity and legitimacy of that kind of action by our fellow workers in Korea. May we humbly remind the government that the right to strike and dissent is a universal human right.

Accordingly, we appeal on the Lee Myung-bak government to stop the repression against the KCTU and its affiliates’ leadership by unconditionally releasing those who were already arrested and detained, and recalling all arrest warrants issued against trade union leaders.

We also call on the South Korean government to respect fundamental trade union rights, including the right to strike on political matters involving national policies that may affect the socio-economic well-being of Korean workers and that it fully guarantees freedom of assembly and people's right to dissent.

The existence of a vibrant trade union movement in South Korea is a towering symbol and a reminder that indeed, formal democracy exist in the country. Without it, or placing it under severe state repression, would bring South Korea’s image back to its dark past when it was still under the state of iron rule.

We will closely monitor the government actions in South Korea while assuring fellow workers there that Filipino workers are solidly behind their cause.


Renato B. Magtubo
Chairperson, Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines)
Former Party-List Representative, Philippine Congress

114 Road 20, Project 8 Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: +632-4410947

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