Leaders of unionized rail workers agreed to end their prolonged strike after the ruling and opposition parties promised to form a parliamentary subcommittee aimed at ensuring no privatization of rail services, lawmakers said Monday.
According to the union, only procedural matters remain before the strike officially concludes.
The union leadership met with ruling and opposition party lawmakers with the National Assembly’s Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee (note to committee: couldn’t you find a nice Korean bridge to put on your website rather than the Oakland Bay Bridge?) and agreed to form a parliamentary subcommittee on railway industry development. Said subcommittee would have equal numbers of ruling and opposition lawmakers, although the chairman would be from the Saenuri Party. It could also call an advisory committee composed of outside experts when the need arises, too.
I’m feeling a tad pessimistic today, so I’m guessing this means an end to reforming KORAIL, a public corporation in need of reform if there ever was one. Still, it could have been a lot worse—check out the rhetoric from the weekend:
After the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport issued the license Friday, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) held a massive street protest in front of Seoul City Hall at 3 p.m. Saturday. The organizer estimated the size of the rally at 100,000 people, while authorities put the number at 23,000.
“It will be Park Geun-hye who will be forced to step down in the end,” said Shin Seung-cheol, chairman of the KCTU, at the rally. “All the union members should minimize their everyday work and get ready to fight against a president who is not president.”
Kim Myeong-hwan, the Korail union leader who is hiding in the headquarters of the KCTU, said via a live video message: “Issuing a license to operate a subsidiary for a new bullet train service is tantamount to declaring war against the people. We cannot accept it. The Korail labor union will continue to stage a general strike into the new year unless the government cancels the license.” Many of the protestors held up pickets that read “Park Geun-hye Out,” reminiscent of the 2008 massive candlelight vigil against imported beef from the United States. The rally ended at about 7:30 p.m., after some 5,000 protestors marched toward the Sejong-no area.
As far as I’ve read, the government has not canceled the license, and Kim’s name is on the agreement made with lawmakers. For that matter, not even the DP is excluding the possibility of the parliamentary subcommittee discussing punishing the unionists involved in the strike. I seriously doubt they will be punished, but there still seems to be plenty of room for fireworks.