SOUTH KOREA: Roh launches crackdown on striking truck drivers



SEOUL — On August 27, police served a search and seizure warrant on the headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to arrest 16 KCTU leaders. A large detachment of police surrounded the office, where 200 unionists had barricaded themselves inside, preparing for the police assault.

Two days earlier, President Roh Moo-Hyun had declared that any union action that is "illegal and driven by self-interest" would not be "tolerated" anymore. In particular, he singled out a strike by truck drivers for workers' compensation insurance.

The owner-drivers, who are members of the KCTU-affiliated Korean Conveyance Workers Federation, are treated as self-employed proprietors and are therefore not protected by the labour standards Act.

Along with police repression against union leaders, the government is using a combination of promises and threats against individual workers to break up the strike. The corporate media is key to this psychological warfare, running a daily scare campaign about the impact of the strike on foreign investors and claiming that more and more workers are resuming work each day.

From Green Left Weekly, September 3, 2003.

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