Today in Sydney and Melbourne Australia, hundreds of unionists joined the ITCU International day of action and rallied in support of jailed Korean trade union leader Han Sang-gyun.
Han is the former president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU and is still serving a three-year sentence in Hwasung Correction Centre. Mr Han lead the trade union against the regressive labour reforms under the former Park Geun-hye government.
The rallies in Australia were organised by SIGTUR, APHEDA and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), and supported by a range of unions.
Unionists in Australia are calling for their immediate release and calling for the rights of unionists around the world to be respected.
Union rights are human rights.
Australian unionists are also calling for charges to be dropped against Ms Lee Young-joo, a former General Secretary of the KCTU, teacher and leader in the Korean Teachers’ Union which was de-certified under the former Park Geun-hye government. Ms Lee is held in detention and will be sent to trial in February and March, facing charges simply for being a trade unionist.
“Workers and unionists in Australia are appalled at the treatment of unionists in Korea, and are calling on the new Moon Jae-in Government to immediately release Mr Han and drop charges against Ms Lee,” said SIGTUR Australia co - convenor Glenn Thompson, who is also the Assistant National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU).
“All workers no matter where they are in the world have the right to organise in unions and stand up for hteir working rights.
“Indeed the United Nations has affirmed the rights of all people to both join and organise unions.
“Korea needs to fulfil its obligations to human rights and act immediately.
“At a time when the world’s eyes are on Korea’s Winter Olympics, it’s time for Korea to act to be a good global citizen.
“We are telling Korea: the world is watching and we won’t let you brush this issue under the carpet.”