By Song In-geol, Daejeon correspondent
KORAIL took strong measures against railroad workers as their strike reached its third day on Dec. 11, defining the strike as illegal.Meanwhile, the union continued calling for a halt to railway privatization, issuing five demands to block it.On Dec. 11, KORAIL fired another 807 union members who took part in the strike, bringing the total of workers who lost their jobs over it to 6,748 - nearly all the 6,949 participants estimated by the corporation. With 498 workers having been reinstated, this essentially means all of the union members in the strike have been suspended.
The Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) responded the same day by filing for an injunction with Daejeon District Court to overturn the vote by KORAIL’s temporary board of directors to establish the Suseo KTX Corporation. Later that day, it launched a struggle in solidarity with citizens and civic groups around the country, holding candlelight vigils against privatization at central train stations in Cheonan, Jeonju, Suncheon, and Mokpo.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and KRWU also held an emergency press conference at the main KCTU conference room in Seoul’s Jeong neighborhood the same day to issue five demands to the government, National Assembly, and KORAIL for an end to the strike.
The list included withdrawing KORAIL’s decision to establish the Suseo KTX corporation; halting the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport’s issuance of a corporate license; setting up a railroad development subcommittee in the National Assembly Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee; setting up an organization for stakeholder discussions; and halting KORAIL’s union suppression, including suspensions and formal complaints against workers.
The KCTU and KRWU are also planning a large rally for the afternoon of Dec. 14 at Seoul Station, with members coming from around the country to participate. They also warned that the struggle against the government would be ramped up if they did not receive a suitable answer on their demand for an organization to hold discussions.Meanwhile, KTX, electric train, and commuter train service remained normal as the strike entered its third day.
But regular train service was reduced, with the Saemaeul operating at 56% of capacity (28 out of 50 scheduled trips) and the Mugunghwa at 66% (176 out of 266 trips), resulting in passenger complaints about the difficulty transferring between trunk and branch lines.The strike the same day had a participation rate of 31.5%, with an estimated 6,451 of 12,000 union members taking part. Out of the union’s 20,500 members, 8,414 were unable to attend due to mandatory staffing requirements.