Korea: UNI Apro Regional Secretary pays pit stop solidarity visit to Oracle Korea Union’s Bus Office
On November 29, UNI Apro’s Regional Secretary, Christopher Ng made a solidarity visit to Oracle Korea Union’s office to meet with union leaders of KFCLU and Oracle Korea Union. The Oracle Korea Union office is in fact a second-hand big bus stationed in front of ASEM Tower building where Oracle Korea head office is located. The bus office is powered by an electricity-generator and fitted with the basic necessities such as computers, printer, and a sofa. Colorfully decorated with union posters, and strategically parked in front of KOEX and ASEM Tour located near huge shopping malls in the Kangnam area, the bus had recently transformed into an interesting photo-zone for foreign tourists.
However, the Oracle Korea Union had not originally intended to contribute to Seoul’s tourism with its colorful bus. It was borne out of “desperate creativity” when the union was denied a proper office facility by the Oracle Korea’s management. This resulted in the first ever bus-converted union office in Korea’s union movement history. Normally, most Korean union struggle uses outdoor tents which are vulnerable and easily destroyed or dismantled by outsiders or police forces. The advantage of this bus office is that, having prior approval for parking from police, it cannot be torn down and they just need to observe the road and traffic act.
Bro Ahn Jong-Cheol, Oracle Korea Union president who is an IT engineer by training explains, “My friend’s father is a businessman to buy second-car and export to other countries. I purchased this second-hand bus which planned to be exported to Vietnam with a very cheap price and converted to union office. To legally operate this bus, I acquired a special driving license."
The Oracle Korea Union struggle had reached 198 days as of November 29. These four union activists are still continuing strike action and managing all kinds of union activities without salary payment from the company.
The long struggle is depleting the union’s financial capacity. But despite this financial and psychological hardship, Bro Ahn and his colleagues are determined to continue their fight. He shared that the negotiations are still in the process but the Oracle Korea’s management is still resistant to accept the union basic demands such as union recognition, union office, full time union officials-time off etc. He expressed firmly the union’s commitment to press on the struggle, saying, “Our struggle is not only for our own union but for all IT workers in Korea. So we must win our struggle and demonstrate for the right for our workers to be fairly treated and recognized their contribution to the IT industry.”
Christopher Ng, UNI Apro’s Regional Secretary says “In 2000, UNI was integrated with 4 international unions and the background of our decision to merge was to properly address the new labor market circumstances which will be quite different from the old-day practices due to the rapid speed of digitalization and IT technology development around the world. UNI is the leading international union which has expertise to deal with ICT/IT industry and platform economy workers. We are ready to support Oracle Korea union struggle and hope your fight will be beyond your union but all Korean IT industry workers union in the future.”
Bro Lee Yun-Kyung, KFCLU president says they will continue to extend IT organizing campaign from the second week of December to distribute union flyers in areas of Bundang-Digital Valley, Sangam Digital Valley and Kuro-Digital Valley. Oracle Korea union also plans to raise the struggle fund of US$100,000. UNI Apro will support Oracle Korea union’s struggle fund raising campaign. For details of Oracle Korea Union struggle fund please contact Jay Choi, Director of UNI-Korea Development and Organizing Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.