Centre for Trade Union Rights
Internacional para los derechos Sindicales
International pour les Droits Syndicaux
Honorable Roh Moo Hyun
President, Republic of Korea
28 September 2006
Dear President Roh,
The International Centre for Trade Union
Rights is gravely concerned by the forced closure of more than 111 local branch
offices of the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) over the period 23-27
September in what has been described as an ‘extreme crackdown’ on trade union
KGEU’s offices have been violently attacked by riot police equipped with fire
extinguishers, hammers, drills and power saws that enabled them to force access
to the union offices, to forcibly eject union members, and to seal the offices
with iron bars and plates.
Furthermore, Korean trade unions report dozens of their members to have
been seriously injured and hospitalised by the police violence.
ICTUR understands that the
basis for this action is the implementation of two Directives issued by the
Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs on 22 March and 3 August,
which define the KGEU as an ‘illegal organisation’.
ICTUR reminds the
authorities that the KGEU is internationally recognised as a trade union, and
that the principles of freedom of association, which require that workers’
organisations should be able to carry out their activities in freedom from
interference by the State, are protected under the ILO’s Declaration of
Fundamental Principles 1998, which applies to all ILO member states. Trade union
rights are further protected under the fundamental instruments of international
human rights law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
ICTUR calls for the
re-opening of all KGEU offices, for the recognition of the legitimacy of the
KGEU, for the release of all those arrested, for compensation to be awarded to
those workers injured by the police, and for a serious re-orientation of
government policy towards trade unions.
The details of this incident will be
reported in the journal, International Union Rights, which has readers in more
than 100 countries.