Protest letter to S. Korea President Roh

October 26, 2003

President Roh:

We write to express our outrage at the recent arrest of Cho Jung Hee, Kim Myung Hwan, Kim Wool Hyun, Lee Sung Woo, Noh Jae Dong, Noh Sun Kun, Park Chang Man, and Park Young Jae -- union officials and organizers of Daejeon and Chunahn local unions of the Korean Federation of Construction Industries Union (KFCITU), an affiliate of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.

We are particularly outraged by the imprisonment of Lee Sung Woo, President of the Daejeon local union.  In 1995 he lost both his legs and his arm due to a tragic work-site accident at one of the construction sites.  Since the prosecution has declared President Lee to be a flight risk, he is to be incarcerated until the end of his trial, which has yet to be set. Clearly, due to his physical challenges, his health will be endangered if he is not released immediately.

The police have launched a series of unwarranted and malicious investigations into the organizing efforts of the KFCITU in order to stop the KFCITU from organizing the more than two million day laborers working in construction sites all across South Korea.  For the past several years, the KFCITU has been successful in organizing blue-collar construction workers to defend them against dangerous working conditions and notoriously low pay in the industry.

The police refused to reveal the identity of those who filed the complaint against the union but as their questions were similar to the arguments used by construction companies during the collective bargaining process the union believes that construction companies are behind these investigations. Clearly, the police actions are intended to harass and break the construction union on behalf of the construction bosses.  As a former labor attorney you are well aware of how often this is used as a tactic by employers to deny workers a right to unionize their workplace.

We call for the immediate release of those arrested as a result of this police harassment campaign.  We also demand an end to the malicious police investigations into the organizing efforts of the Korean Federation of Construction Industries Union.  Finally, we demand your government stop the continued persecution of unionized workers as a whole.


Jordan Briggs

for the International Bolshevik Tendency

Posted: 28 October 2003