MAC: Mines and Communities

Sample Letter:

Published by MAC on 2006-07-01

Sample Letter:

Dear President Roh:

On behalf of the __________, I am writing to express our outrage at the violent repression faced by the members of the Pohang local union of the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Union (KFCITU), KCTU.

According to the KFCITU, the Pohang local union launched a strike on July 1, 2006 for a 15% increase in wages, five-day workweek, and better and safe working conditions. During and following the strike the union has continued to conduct a series of actions, including a nine-day sit-down demonstration at POSCO headquarters, candle light vigils, visits to the National Assembly, distribution of union strike literature, and rallies. However, it is our understanding that rather than trying to objectively mediate to resolve the strike in an equitable fashion, your government has chosen to send in thousands of riot police to violently stop the union from conducting legal and peaceful actions.

The police violence has resulted in tragic consequences. Over 200 have been injured. Some are still seeking medical attention. One union member, Ha Jeung Keun has died as a result of his injuries. According to witnesses the police repeatedly beat Ha Jeung Keun on the head with their metal shields. In addition, a wife of a union member miscarried due to a confrontation with the police when she and other family members conducted a peaceful march to see their husbands, fathers, and sons who were conducting a sit-down demonstration at POSCO headquarters.

The police actions are unacceptable and we fully denounce the use of any violence used by the police to stop the union from attempting to exercise its fundamental labour rights. We strongly urge you to launch a full and impartial investigation into the series of violent acts conducted by the police. In addition, we urge your government to punish those responsible for the deaths of Ha Jeung Keun and fully compensate his family for their tragic loss.

We would like to point out that your government's actions and the specific violent attacks by your government against the KFCITU contravene the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948) and 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949).

These instruments are considered fundamental human rights and although South Korea did not ratify them it has an obligation arising from its membership in the ILO to respect and enforce the principles, which are the subject of these conventions. We find it ironic that your government would engage in anti-union activities that contradict ILO conventions particularly since your government is hosting the ILO Asia Pacific Regional Meeting this month. These actions clearly show that your government has very little respect for the ILO conventions and thus, does disservice to dishonor "the spirit" of the ILO.

In order for your government qualify to hold the ILO ARM, we believe you should immediately release those arrested as a result of the police's brute force to end the strike. Your government should also call the police to rescind the arrest warrants of union members who are "in hiding" as a result of the strike. More importantly, we strongly urge you to stop all forms of violence against trade unionists when they exercise their fundamental right to organise, to strike, and to collective bargaining. We will continue to monitor the situation until this matter is resolved.

Sincerely ..........................................................

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