Corea, República de - Fifteen construction union members sentenced

On 2 June 2016 a Korean court found 15 tower crane operators, all members of the Korean Construction Workers’ Union, guilty of “blackmail” and “obstruction of business”, simply for trying to engage in collective bargaining negotiations with a company that refused to hire union members. They were particularly concerned about safety conditions on Korea’s accident-prone building sites. KCWU Vice President Jeong Min-ho and Seoul-Gyeonggi Tower Crane Branch President Kim Myeong-uk were sentenced to two to three years’ incarceration respectively, while the other 13 were given suspended prison sentences ranging from 8 to 18 months for the same charges.

The charges were part of a widespread crackdown on South Korean trade unions, designed to intimidate and threaten unions that dared to oppose the government’s neoliberal agenda and anti-worker labour reforms.
All 15 were later granted bail on appeal.

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