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Korea: ITUC Condemns Arrest of KCTU President

INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ITUC)

Korea: ITUC Condemns Arrest of KCTU President

Brussels, 8 December 2008: The ITUC has condemned the arrest by the Korean authorities of Lee Suk-haeng, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), on 5 December. Lee was arrested for organising a general strike on 2 July 2008 and for organising solidarity action for workers from the E-Land retail company. The general strike was in protest at the government's decision to resume imports of beef from the USA in the absence of the necessary food safety guarantees, while the E-Land solidarity action was in support of workers employed under precarious and exploitative employment arrangements in violation of protections introduced into law in July 2007. The arrest, for "obstruction of business", was pursuant to warrants issued against Lee on 24 July 2008, along with ten other officials of the KCTU and its metals-sector affiliate the KMWU.

"The arrest of Lee Suk-haeng is a flagrant violation of Korea's international legal obligations to respect freedom of association. We call on the authorities to release him immediately and withdraw all the arrest warrants," said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

Following the issuing of the arrest warrants in July, KCTU General Secretary Lee Yong Shik, and First Vice-President Jin Young Ok were arrested and subsequently released on bail. The KCTU headquarters building was surrounded by police, people entering the premises were subjected to searches, and homes and family members of KCTU leaders were subjected to police surveillance. The actions of the Korean government have come in spite of repeated calls by the UN's International Labour Organisation for Korea to respect freedom of association. The ITUC has brought this most recent case of anti-union action by the authorities to the attention of the ILO.

To see the ITUC letter to the Korean authorities: http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/KCTU__KMWU_arrest_warrants_04-08-08.pdf

ENDS

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