Australian Transport Workers Take Solidarity Action With South Korean Comrades

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[Picture: Rally with the Korean Federation of Public Services and Transportation Workers' Unions (KPTU)

Australian transport unions, and a delegation of their South Korean comrades, were among those who joined the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in Sydney today to protest the South Korean government’s unpopular new rail restructuring and privatisation programme.

ITF affiliate, the Korean Railway Workers Union (KRWU) launched a strike on Monday in protest against a move to privatise state-run railway operations.

The KRWU strike, the first in four years, comes before the board of the state-run railway operator meets to discuss details of the privatisation plan.

Members of the umbrella body, the Korean Federation of Public Services and Transportation Workers' Unions (KPTU), are in Australia this week to meet with unions across the country.

They joined members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

MUA National Secretary and ITF President Paddy Crumlin said the day of action meant global transport unions were able to put pressure on the company and called on the Korean Railroad Corporation (KORAIL) to sit down and open constructive discussions with the union.

“Since June, the South Korean government has been pushing forward a new rail restructuring and privatisation programme despite widespread opposition,” Mr Crumlin said.

“Korean rail workers have commenced strike action following the government’s and Korea Railroad Corporation's (KORAIL's) flat out rejection of any social dialogue.”

ITF coordinator for Australia Dean Summers said, the rally was a tremendous display of international solidarity.

“We are proud to stand alongside the Korean Railway Workers' Union this week to support their efforts to protect their important public asset," Mr Summers said. 

“Today’s rally was attended by activists from across the political spectrum, keen to see justice prevail for these workers.”

Speakers at the rally included RTBU Assistant National Secretary Allan Barden and Wol-san Liem from the Korean Federation of Public Services and Transportation Workers’ Unions (KPTU).

Unions and activists have pledged to continue their international solidarity.

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Click here to view pictures from the Sydney Rally.