Thousands of South Korean teachers protested in the capital, Seoul, on Saturday against the government's move to illegalise the Korean Teachers Union. The government is demanding that it expel 22 members, who were sacked after signing anti-government statements in 2009. Members have voted overwhelmingly not to expel the teachers, but to fight for the right of the Korean Teachers Union to carry on organising and campaigning for the political rights of its members.

If the government goes ahead with its plans, the union will lose its legal status as a labour union on October 23rd at which point, the check off of dues will cease and it will lose its collective bargaining rights.

The KTU has a of fighting for social justice in the country. Its October 11th statement, reprinted below, points out for example that it is opposing the changing of school history books in a way which would glorify militarism and dictatorship. The KTU's fight is one for democracy itself as their statement makes clear

Education International is supporting the against the illegalisation of the KTU.

 

Resolution of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
Defend Korea Teacher Union at All Cost

 

To Defend KTU is to Defend KCTU

The crackdown by the Park Geun-hye administration on the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) is a violent signal for dismantling the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and launching massacre of workers. Its intention is to liquidate not only the KTU but all democratic labor unions. KTU has become the direct target of the governmental assault. It is unprecedented even in the time of the past administrations. Now the Park Geun-hye administration is going to destroy the pillar of the KCTU, a militant organization of fighting workers. Therefore, to defend KTU from this harsh and outrageous repression of the Park Geun-hye administration is a struggle to defend basic labor rights that all workers of the world is righteously exercising and at the same time to defend the KCTU, the hope of all workers in our country.

To Defend KTU is to Set History Right

The other reason that Park Geun-hye government attacks the KTU is that the KTU is the last bulwark against the desperate efforts of conservative and reactionary forces to distort the history. Under their pressure, revision of history textbook of history is now under way in Korea with an intention of praising the era of Japanese imperialist domination and also the age of military dictatorship after World War Two. It is an inadmissible move to falsify the history and to destroy democracy. If pro-Japan politicians are described to have played a major role in modernization of Korea and worship of dictators prevails in the textbook of history, it will pave the way for the appearance of dictatorship today. Those who suffered most from tyrannies were always the working class people. The KCTU will never allow the attempt of unduly justifying the bitter history of Korea and of promoting to return to the days when workers were not treated like human beings.

To Defend the KTU is to Defend Democracy

The current attempt of the Park Gueun-hye administration is to delegalize the whole organization of the KTU because of its refusal of governmental demand to exclude discharged education workers from the union membership. It is an ultra-reactionary assault on the labor rights by the Labor and Employment Ministry of the Park Gueun-hye administration. In line with this, the Ministry of Education issued an official written order, which claims participation of education workers in a labor union meeting is illegal. This brings us back to the era of the Yushin System after self-coup in 1972. We are witnessing a terrible political development, in which the National Intelligent Service illegally intervened in the presidential election, the security police are cracking down on the democratic forces and further the governmental attack came so far as to disorganize the KTU. Democracy is now under fire of repression.

But if democracy is destroyed and dictatorship revives, then a fierce struggle of working class people would surely once again come to the stage, as is the case with historic demonstrations in 1987. If the Park Gueun-hye administration’s dream is to revive reactionary labor policy of the Park Chung-hee in repressing the KTU and the KCTU and destroying democracy, then you would meet once again Chun Tae-il, a self-sacrificing labor hero. If your intention is to revive the labor policy of Chun Doo-hwan, then you will be greeted by a new, tremendous struggle of working class. KCTU expresses its determination to fight rigorously against the Park Gueun-hye administration, which intends to destroy the KTU and liquidate democracy.

We resolve:
Firstly, to make determination for all-out struggle to crush the government’s repression on the KTU and to gain fundamental labor rights for all workers.

Secondly, to rise up to prevent the publication of new-right history textbook, which distorts history and praises Japanese imperialism as well as Korean dictatorship with all of our power.

Thirdly, to hold an Extraordinary Meeting of Workplace Representatives across the nation on October 15, Kick-off Rally on October 26 and National Workers Rally on November 10 to fight back all-out crackdown on the KCTU by general labor mobilization.

Defend the KTU for life!


 

October 11, 2013

All the participants in the All-out Rally of the KCTU