Free Brother Han: UNI calls on all affiliates to take urgent action
UNI Global Union is stepping up the campaign to free KCTU President Han Sang-gyun and more than 20 other trade union leaders imprisoned in South Korea. They are serving prison sentences for standing up for workers’ rights. We call on you to sign up to the ITUC LabourStart petition, write to the Korean Embassy in your country and be vocal on social media using the hashtags #FreePresidentHan and #kctu.
Please find attached the letter sent to Korea’s President Park Geun-hye by UNI Global Union’s General Secretary Philip Jennings, demanding that Bro. Han is immediately released and able to receive his UNI Freedom from Fear award at next month’s World Executive Board in Nyon.
Please forward this letter to your Korean Embassy and use it as a blueprint for your own letter calling for Bro. Han and his colleagues to be set free. The blueprint is also attached as a word document. Please send your letter to the following addresses:
- By email to: email@example.com
- By post to:
Attention of President Park,
President Office: Secretary for People's Grievance
#1, Chongwada-ro, Jongro-ku, Seoul
Republic of Korea
UNI Global Union, UNI Apro and the UNI Korea Liaison Council have been following and supporting Brother Han throughout his ordeal. Recently Philip Jennings and UNI Apro Regional Secretary Chris Ng visited Brother Han at the Seoul detention centre. This was part of a united global labour movement effort to highlight the plight of trade unionists in the country.
Bro Han faces a five-year jail term - the imprisonment of this respected union leader is a clear attempt by the government to crush worker protests. During his short, monitored conversation with Bro. Han in the Seoul security unit, Jennings conveyed the strength and volume of the international support for Bro Han. Many of UNI’s sectors, including healthcare and finance workers, remain similarly unbowed with waves of strikes and protests in the streets.
Currently, the strike of public sector workers against the repressive labour reform and performance based pay system was declared 'illegal' and 9 leaders of Korean Railway Workers Union are accused for the notorious 'obstruction of business'. In order to end the strike, the government is seeking 'emergency arbitration', a practice denounced by the ILO as infringement of freedom of association. Self-employed truck drivers also face criminal and civil charges for a strike they planned.
This week the 5th UNI Apro East Asia Trade Unions Forum in Seoul, South Korea will release a joint statement calling on the Korean government to:
- To free all detained workers who participated in the protests, including KCTU President Han Sang-gyun,
- To investigate the acts of police brutality and ensure that those responsible for them are brought to justice;
- To guarantee the right to freedom of assembly and association, in compliance with ratified international treaties.
We will not rest until Bro Han and his colleagues are freed!
For background information on Korea’s poor record on workers’ rights see the ITUC Global Rights Index http://www.ituc-csi.org/ituc-global-rights-index-2016
- No guarantee of rights – one of the worst countries in the world to be a worker (Rating 5 see ITUC Violation Map)
- ‘KCTU leader arrested in wave of repression as many more trade unionists faced possible charges’ (Page 63 of ITUC Survey)
- ‘Government bans mass rally, arrests participants and raids trade union offices’ (Page 64 of ITUC Survey)