Entire MTU leadership arrested
On Tuesday, November 27th, the entire executive of South Korea’s Migrant Trade Union was arrested by immigration officials in three co-coordinated morning actions targeting these migrants at their places of work and residence.
The MTU is a courageous union of undocumented migrant workers, supported by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) that has been active for three years in advocating for migrant workers rights. In recent months they had held a mass memorial service for migrants that had died in Korea, whether on the job or off. They also won a precedent-setting case at the Seoul High court which had ruled that the government must accept the legal registration of the Migrant Trade Union, something which the government failed to do, preferring instead, it seems, to arrest the union’s leadership rather than recognize it legally.
Korea celebrates two 'May Days': the actual international day of worker's protest and an indigenous holiday commemorating Chun Tae Il, who immolated himself in the early seventies in protest of the regressive labour relations that animated the sweatshops of the textile boom of those days.
On July 1st South Korea's new Law on Non-Regular Work came into effect. The principle of the law was to protect non-regular workers, but in practice the way in which it has been put together and implemented has led to protection only for a few and increased precariousness for many.
A while ago I was able to visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea. I haven't had much time since then to sit down and write up my reflections, but I have to give a short presentation on it in a few days so I thought I would put up a draft of my presentation as well as some pictures. Any comments, of course, would be highly appreciated as well.
In the wake of a tragic fire that ripped through the Yeosu detention on February 11th, migrant's groups in Korea and internationally have been mobilizing to bring to light the injustices that surround migrant's lives in Korea and elsewhere.
Angry demonstrations spread across the Korean penninsula Wednesday (November 22)as part of a large, broad-based campaign to oppose the current negotiations over the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement and the general state of labour relations and foreign policy on the penninsula.
[Image and caption from the Hankyoreh.) [Image Caption: President Roh Moo-hyun flies back to Korea, poring over plans for the "Roh Moo-hyun Memorial."On the ground below there are fires burning, namely "real estate," "unemployment," and "education." Near the destruction, you also see massive street protests. One is in opposition to a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. The other is a protest by part-time and contract workers calling for better legal protection.]
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) held a warning strike yesterday in protest of several pressing labour issues including: the negotiation of the Korea US Free Trade Agreement, the signing of a tripartite agreement without consent or participation of the KCTU, the expanse of irregular work and oppression against their organizations and the sorry state of workers accident insurance and workers compensation.
Following an ILO regional meeting in Busan, South Korea, labour relations have soured in that country over the month of September with a large government offensive against the 140,000 member Korean Government Employee’s Union, and a back door agreement with a government-friendly union selectively advancing segments of the government’s labour reform roadmap which many fear will pave the way for further expansion of irregular work on the peninsula.