16 Days' Hunger strike of KGEU President, Hair Saving in Protest of 137 Dismissed KGEU Members


Lack of fundamental labour rights in the public sector is leading to serious political and social problems.

"Reinstate 137 KGEU members 165 KPTU members!"

"Recognise KGEU as a Legal Union"


* * *


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The Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) is still not recognized as a legal trade union organization. The government has indeed refused to register the union three times. Since its founding, 137 union members have been dismissed for their trade union activity. In January 2013, KGEU president Kim, Jung-nam conducted a 16 day hunger strike before being hospitalized. The KGEU is now continuing sit-it strike in front of the National Assembly. The KGEU President and Secretary General were recently dismissed on the ground that they are leaders of an illegal organisation. In 2012, the ILO called on the government to recognize the KGEU and allow it to carry out trade union activity. In its most recent report, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association stated, "[T]he Committee expressed deep regret at the gravity of the allegations involving serious acts of extensive interference in the activities of the KGEU and requested the Government to immediately cease all acts of interference.” The ILO urged the government “to take all possible measures with a view to achieving conciliation between the Government and the KGEU so that the latter may continue to exist and ultimately to register within the framework of the legislation which should be in line with freedom of association principles."


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Further, 165 public enterprise workers who are members of the Korean Federation of Public Sector and Transportation Workers’ Unions (KPTU) were dismissed from their jobs in retaliation for legitimate union activities. Many of these workers, including 96 members of the KPTU-affiliated Korean Railway Workers’ Union, faced reprisal due to their opposition to public sector privatization and other actions taken to defend quality public services. Others were fired in an effort to prevent legitimate efforts to improve the poor working conditions faced by irregular public enterprise workers. Dismissed public sector workers, many of whom who have been out of jobs for several years or more, suffer from economic, social and psychological hardship. Their reinstatement is essential to the normalization of public sector labour relations and the protection of the Korean people’s right to quality public services. 


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