Corea, República de - Another trade union leader sent to prison

On 26 July 2016 the Seoul Central District Court House sentenced the Vice President of the Korean Public Services and Transport Workers’ Union (KPTU), Cho Sung-deok, to two years’ imprisonment, for his role in the Mass People’s Mobilisation on 14 November 2015. He was one of several South Korean union leaders to have been put on trial for dubious charges relating to the trade union led protests, and his sentence came just two weeks after Han Sang-gyun, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for similar ‘offences’. One of the charges was for “obstruction of traffic”, yet in the words of ITF President Paddy Crumlin the rally “amounted at most to causing a traffic jam”.

The November rally was a protest against proposed labour reforms that would greatly reduce workers’ rights, and against the government in general. The regime cracked down hard on the protest, which was seen by many as part of a wider attack on the democratic labour movement in Korea designed to punish unions for speaking out against reforms that would negatively affect workers’ lives.

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