Solidarity to Yang Kyung-soo and the Militant Union KCTU, against
Repression by the Korean Government
SI Cobas expresses its outrage and condemnation of the arrest of Yang Kyung-soo, leader of the Korean trade union KCTU, aimed at preventing the general strike of 20 October in preparation.
The pretext: he organised a demonstration on 3 July in Seoul with 4,701 (according to the police count) participants (with masks and social distancing), which was not authorised under the pretext of Covid.
Only three of the participants in the demonstration later tested positive to Covid.
On 2 September, dozens of policemen surrounded the union headquarters before dawn to arrest Yang.
Everywhere in the world, even in Italy, the governments of the bosses have used and continue to use the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent or restrict the right of workers to meet, demonstrate and strike, and to hit combative trade unions with hundreds of fines and complaints.
SI Cobas replies that “if we can work, we can also strike, meet and march”, while respecting the anti Covid rules”.
But the arrest of the Korean trade union leader is a very serious political fact, an attack on the trade union organisation and the one million workers who are members of the KCTU, and an attack on their freedom to strike, because the aim is to prevent the general strike of 20 October against the government.
SI Cobas suffered a similar attack with the arrest of its national coordinator Aldo Milani in 2017 on the basis of a judicial and police set-up, and hundreds of charges against workers and organisers for strikes, but Korea has a special history of anti-union repression.
Since the formation of the combative KCTU union in 1995, all of its 13 presidents have been arrested by the bourgeois state powers, both under openly pro-business governments and under allegedly progressive governments such as the current one of Moon Jae-in, which came to power thanks to protests led by the KCTU itself, followed by the ‘candlelight revolution’.
Moon Jae-in, who had pledged to pay attention to the needs of the workers, did not hesitate to have Yang’s predecessor Han Sang-gyu arrested for alleged fighting in parliament with the police, and he does not hesitate now to have Yang Kyung-soo (a former temporary worker on the Kia Motors assembly line) arrested, because the KCTU opposes neoliberal measures including layoffs and discrimination against temporary workers, and demands the right to organise in trade unions for civil servants, and the abolition of “security” laws, the extension of public school and health systems, and the resignation of the government.
A platform that is very close to the one for which the 11 October strike has been called in Italy.
We strongly call for the immediate release of Yang Kyung-soo, and we wish our KCTU brothers full success of the 20 October strike, and that 1 million and more workers take to the streets to defend their conditions and freedom to strike, organise and demonstrate.
Let’s work for an international day of struggle for our common goals!
Workers of the world, let’s unite!
SI Cobas, Italy – International Solidarity Committee