SIGTUR Regional Coordinating Committee G-20

The Street & the Plush Hotel in Seoul – The G20 & Society

SIGTUR - Regional Coordinator Rob Lambert G-20 Rally

Written By Rob Lambert - 13th November 2010

Korea is an exemplar for the G20 – a model for all in these difficult times.  This is the view from the hotel, temperature adjusted to the icy winds and rain blowing in from the north.  On the streets, no such protection, yet the streets are where the truth of globalization resides, for it was here that the Korean Council of Trade Unions (KCTU) organized a mass protest mobilization of their members and allies, supported by trade unionists and NGOs from many countries across the globe.

The significance of holding the G20 meeting in Korea for working people should not be lost.  On the surface, this seems to be a nation that has made big on the world economic stage – now a member of the OECD and sitting at the table of the global power elite – a nation which industrialized rapidly.  Seoul, the modern city, a shoppers paradise, six lane freeways, congested traffic, neon signs, gigantic television screens enticing to a life of abundance, all representing the global dream.

The dark side of the ‘miracle economy’ and the equally fantastical global economy was exposed on the streets of Seoul, through vibrant song and dance and the passionate speeches telling of the insecurity of corporate restructuring.  News bulletins spoke of one suicide every 34 minutes.  These were persons unable to cope with the pressures and the insecurity.

Drawing on its own rich tradition of the struggle for democratic unionism, KCTU provides a rich sense of the power of movement, which connects and unifies social consciousness and experience.  November is the time of commemorating Chun Tae-il, the 22 year old clothing worker who took his own life on November 13th 1970 in protest against the extreme conditions of exploitation of young women workers in the garment sector.

Movements are about deep commitment as a source of power against the elite controlling the destiny of the planet from the hotel of the wealthy.  Tae-il recorded in his diary: ‘In this age of persons being regarded as a thing I will not compromise with any injustice nor remain silent, but will do my best to bring forth justice’.

Only a strong global justice movement of the committed will challenge the cruel logic of free market globalization.  The union movement has a key role to play in this critical campaign which will take decades to win. To advance this fight for humanity and nature


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