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  Issue No 61 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 July 2000  




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Korean Hotel Workers Seek Global Help

By Andrew Casey

Striking Korean hotel workers at the Swiss Grand Hotel and the Seoul Hilton are worried they could be the next targets of escalating riot police violence.

The threat follows a tear gas attack on colleagues at the nearby upmarket Seoul Lotte Hotel.

The use of riot squads and tear gas to break up the three week strike at the Lotte Hotel, and the imprisonment and jailing of hotel union officials, has created an international furore.

Foreign guests staying at the Seoul Lotte - which is part of a Japanese-owned Korean chain - watched stunned as riot police dragged workers - often bleeding from the baton attacks - out of the hotel in a three hour action.

The attack on the striking hotel workers was followed by a similar raid on workers occupying the building of the National Health Insurance Corporation.

And the Korean Federation of Tourism Workers Unions has alerted the international union movement - through their international affiliate the IUF - of the possibility of similar action at the Swiss Grand Hotel and the Hilton in Seoul.

The IUF - the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Association - has urgently requested protest messages be sent to the government of Korea and to the management of the Lotte Hotel.

" The danger exists that the violence against trade unions will escalate, it is vital that you register your protest now," IUF General Secretary, Ron Oswald, said.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has also written strong letters to the President of Korea, Kim Dae-Jung, and the boss of the Lotte Hotel Groups, Shin Kyuk-ho.

The ICFTU and the IUF are backing calls from the militant national trade union centre, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions ( KCTU) calling for international support.

More than 1,100 hotel workers - employed at the Seoul Lotte Hotel - were detained, and at least 33 workers were injured. Ten pregnant women were among those exposed to the riot police forces tear gas attack.

The workers - members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions affiliated hotel union - have been involved in three weeks of strikes and protests to back demands for:

a 17 per cent wage increase,

changes in the employment status of part-time workers to full-time workers,

changes in the retirement age, and

a 40 hour working week

The strike and protests ended violently early on the morning of Thursday June 29 when riot police invaded the hotel.

The Lotte Hotel Workers were stunned at this reaction because they had earlier gone out of their way to co-operate with the authorities by suspending their protests and strikes in what they thought was ' the national interest'.

Their luxury hotel had been chosen by the government to host the International Press Centre for the historic summit between North Korea's Chairman Kim Jong Il and South Korea's President Kim Dae-Jung.

You can keep up with the situation in Korea by logging onto the following website:

Write solidarity letters/ send e-mails to:

Mr Shin Kyuk-ho, Chairman

Lotte Hotels Group

1, Sogong-Dong Chung-Ku


Republic of Korea 100-070

Fax:82 2 759 7001

mailto:[email protected]

H.E. Kim Dae Jung

The President of the Republic of Korea

The Blue House

1 Sejong-no, Chongno-gu

Seoul 1110.-05

Republic of Korea

Fax: 82-2-770 02 53

Send copies of solidarity letters to

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions

5th floor Daeyoung Bld

139 Youngdeungpo-2-ga


Seoul 150-032


Fax: 82 2 2635 1134

mailto:[email protected]


*    Follow the South Korean strikes on Labourstart

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 61 contents

In this issue
*  Technology: Union Rep for Global Net Body
The godfather of unions and the Internet, Eric Lee, is seeking your support to give labour a voice on the net's governing body, ICANN.
*  Interview: Downloaded and Done Over
In the wake of the TV Networks' digital TV victory, Internet industry chief Peter Coroneus rues a missed opportunity for Australia.
*  Legal: The Global Millennium Project
The International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR) has developed a draft proposal for a comprehensive revision and modernisation of international labour standards for the new millenium.
*  Unions: Sandgropers Get Serious on Stress
The Australian Services Union in Western Australia in conjunction with the University of Western Australia, is surveying workers across the state's call centre industry.
*  Politics: New Work for a New Millennium
View in full the ALP's Draft Industrial Relations Policy to be taken to the National Conference at the end of the month.
*  Solidarity: Korean Hotel Workers Seek Global Help
Striking Korean hotel workers at the Swiss Grand Hotel and the Seoul Hilton are worried they could be the next targets of escalating riot police violence.
*  History: Vince's Parable of the Sundial
How a working man survived WWII and ASIO blacklists to save a sundial.
*  International: Room for Optimism from African Poll
The performance of pro-Deomcracy groups in the Zimbabwean elections has given supporters hope for better days.
*  Environment: Mexican Wave Goes Green
American politics has taken on a Green hue with the left leaning National Action Party and the Greens in Mexico picking up nearly 40% of the vote in the recent elections.
*  Satire: Aussies Celebrate Centenary by Leaving Country
Prime Minister John Howard has defended his government's decision not to involve Australia in the centenary federation celebrations.
*  Review: A Building Sings of Lives Lived in Music
Mysterious shadows flicker in the windows of the Parramatta Town Hall. Strains of trumpet and sarod float outside. It's all part of the urban Theatre Project's latest work, 'The Palais'.

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»  The Soapbox
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»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Congratulations on the Email Rally in Orange
»  Dissident Site
»  Tax Workers Defended
»  A Reluctant Brown-Tongue

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