In Solidarity with Han Sang-gyun HKCTU Condemns Union Busting
On July 4th, 2016, Brother Han Sang-gyun, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), was given a five-year sentence in jail for charges related to the “obstruction of public duty”, “destruction of public goods”, “obstruction of traffic”, and “hosting an assembly at a banned location”. However, the severe sentence handed down to Brother Han is by no means a fair reflection of his actions. In reality, all he did was to stand for workers and organize them for collective actions against employers’ unfair treatments. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) deem that the sentencing of the president of a major independent trade unions is a violation of basic labour rights and human rights. This is a blatant political prosecution which is aimed at undermining the labour movement in South Korea.
Besides Han, about 600 leaders and members of KCTU have been arrested for their participation in Sewol Ferry Tragedy Commemoration Rally on April, a May Day demonstration, and demonstrations against labour law reforms and Peope’s Mass Rally on November. As of now, 20 of them including Sister Lee Young-Joo, the General Secretary of KCTU, are still remained in detention under government’s control.
As a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Korea is obliged to respect workers' rights to freedom of association. However, as seen from the arrest of Brother Han Sang-gyun, the Korean government has been suppressing labour unionists for “disturbing social order”, which is clearly violating the fundamental civil rights suggested by the ILO.
The vice-Chairman of HKCTU, Brother Alex Kwok, has already flown into Seoul to observe the trial and join in the solidarity action in support of Brother Han Sang-gyun. Meanwhile, 15 representatives from the HKCTU staged a protest against the Consulate General of Korea in Hong Kong in the morning of July 4th. The demonstrators demanded the immediately release of all detained KCTU unionists and stop all political suppressions on trade unions.
Since the Consulate General refused to receive the petition, the demonstrators left their demands and petition at the entrance before they dispersed. Whether the letter was sent to the government or not remains unknown, but what is more important is that HKCTU managed to display solidarity with KCTU and condemned the Korean government in union busting. The HKCTU will continue to fight for injustice that is inflicted upon trade unions elsewhere in the world and stand by our sisters and brothers in Korea until the final victory.