South Korean workers protest against labour laws

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thousands of workers in South Korea have staged protests to demonstrate against plans by the government to alter the labour laws in the country.

According to Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) figures, up to 150,000 people attended the protests, held on Saturday in the capital of Seoul, although the police estimated the smaller figure of 60,000.

Under the government's new plans, it will start enforcing laws in 2010 to stop companies from giving wages to full-time representatives of unions, and will allow multiple unions for each individual workplace. Such plans have been delayed for a decade due to opposition from labour groups.

"We, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, are here to defend the labour unions and labour movement in this land. We will thwart the government's policy by mobilising every means possible. If necessary, we will stage a general strike," said spokesman for FKTUK, Kang Choong-ho.

Riot police were present at the demonstrations; however, it was reported that there was no violence or clashes, and protesters later dispersed peacefully.

Media contacted the South Korean Labour Ministry seeking comment regarding the rally, but the Ministry did not immediately respond.