KCTU Hits:263263 2008.08.02 10:17
February 27,2008

His Excellency Lee Myung-bak, President
Republic of Korea
Blue House
Seoul, South Korea
VIA FACSIMILE: 82.2770.0347

Dear President Lee:

On behalf of the nearly ten million working men and women of the American
Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which
represents millions of public sector workers throughout the United States, I am writing to
express deep concern over the sustained and, at times, violent campaign by the
government of the Republic of Korea to dismantle the Korean Government Employees
Union (KGEU).

For years, the KGEU had refused to register itself under the Public Officials Trade
Union Act, a law that the International Labor Organization (ILO) has found to severely
restrict the collective rights of public sector workers. As a result, the government forced
tens of thousands of union members in 2006-2007 to sign letters repudiating their
membership in the union or face dismissal or other sanctions. At the same time, the
government also began to close local union offices throughout the country and forcibly
expelled officers and members, many of who were beaten and arrested by riot police. As
a result of the repression, the union's membership dropped sharply.

In light of the government's refusal to amend the law, and in effort to maintain its
membership base, the KGEU announced on July 21, 2007 its intent to register under the
current law and continue to advocate for its amendment. The KGEU is now registered
under the Public Officials Trade Union Act; however, there is no indication that the
government intends to bring the law into conformity with the recommendations of the
ILO. The government's failure to reform the current law is creating a steep obstacle to
the creation of a stable industrial relations system in the civil service.

Together, we call upon the government to immediately extend to the union all of
the rights and responsibilities afforded to it under ILO Conventions 87, 98 and 151. The
Korean government should amend the Public Officials Trade Union Act, in full
consultation with worker representatives, and consistent with the relevant ILO
conventions. Further, the government should allow any and all former members of the
union to re-affiliate, should they choose to do so, and remain neutral in effort by the union to organize new members.

In addition, we urge the Korean government to release from prison all KGEU
officers and members that have been arrested and incarcerated for lawful acts in defense of internationally recognized trade union rights.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and look forward to your reply.


John J. Sweeney
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