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ICFTU Welcomes Korean Confederation of Trade Unions


KOREA: ICFTU welcomes official registration of national trade union
Brussels, 23 November 1999 (ICFTU OnLine):

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) today
expressed "profound satisfaction" at the legal recognition by the Korean
government of one if its two affiliated organisations in the country,
the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). It called the measure,
announced in Seoul on 22 November, "a long overdue victory of Korean
workers in their unrelenting struggle to ensure respect for basic trade
union rights".

Speaking in Seattle, on the eve of the ICFTU Executive Board meeting,
held there ahead of the upcoming WTO Ministerial Summit, ICFTU General
Secretary Bill Jordan said the KCTU's official registration was "the
ultimate recognition by a government that no economic crisis, however
serious, can be overcome at the sole expense of basic workers' rights".
Hundreds of KCTU rank-and-file members, leaders and activists had been
imprisoned and thousands dismissed for trade union activity since the
KCTU formally established itself as a nation-wide confederation, in

In a congratulations message sent today to the KCTU, the ICFTU also
assured its Korean affiliate of its continued support in "bringing
Korea's labour law and practice into full compliance with ILO standards
in the shortest possible time". The ICFTU said the KCTU's happiness was
"shared by all those trade union organisations around the world which
had supported the KCTU during the long years of bitter struggle in the
face of overwhelming repression".

Trade unionists of several countries had joined the ICFTU in a series of
solidarity missions to Seoul during the famous strikes of Winter 1997,
when the KCTU and its counterpart, the Korean Federation of Trade
Unions( FKTU, also an ICFTU affiliate) nearly paralysed the country in
protest at draconian new labour legislation allowing for massive
workforce retrenchments, in the wake of Asia's financial crisis. The
government had reacted by declaring international trade union observers
"non-grata" and expelling them from the country.

Throughout the 90's, the ICFTU also repeatedly took the Republic of
Korea Government to task before the Committee on Freedom of Association
of the UN's Geneva-based International Labour Office, which deals with
trade union complaints against governments. It had also campaigned
against the ratification by EU Member States and the European Parliament
of an EU-Korean Framework Agreement, delaying its formal ratification
for nearly two years on the grounds of the ROK's consistent breach of
international labour standards.

The ICFTU represents 124 million workers through its 213 affiliated
national trade union centres in 143 countries and territories.
For further information, call: ICFTU Press, Bell Harbour International
Conference Centre, Seattle, Washington, USA: phone. ++.1.296.441.66.66
or Mobile phone: ++.32.476.62.10.18

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