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Korea: Stop attacks on trade unions now

In partnership with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), theInternational Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)IndustriALL, Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), the International Union of Food Workers (IUF), UNI Global Union, Public Services International (PSI), and the Education International.

The administration of President Park, Guen-hye of Korea has repeatedly sought to weaken the rights of workers and their unions since taking office in 2013, including mobilizing police to disrupt protests and to arrest trade union leaders. The ILO has on several occasions condemned the government of Korea for its serious violations of the right to freedom of association and to bargain collectively. Most recently, police raided the offices of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and its affiliates on 21 November, and seized documents, equipment and computers. Several workers were arrested and a warrant has been issued for the President of the KCTU, Han, Sang-Gyun.

This raid follows the unions' participation in a rally on 14 November to protest, among other things, a proposed package of labour law reforms meant to seriously undermine the rights of workers and their trade unions. The labour reforms pushed by the government would reduce payment for overtime work on days off, would permit temporary agency work in basic manufacturing (which has been illegal to date) and would lower the level of unemployment compensation for workers in low-wage short-term jobs. Most recently, President Park invoked the threat of international terrorism to denounce protest leaders, suggesting that terrorists could take advantage of protests to launch attacks.

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