|no-racism | globalised resistance | international newsport | meldungen ||
|South Koreans Protest Restructuring|
|By KYONG-HWA SEOK||
|SEOUL, South Korea, Nov. 19 (AP)|
The protest was the latest in a series that began early this month, when the government stepped up its restructuring of debt-strapped businesses to restore sagging investor confidence in the economy.
Workers have since vowed to fight any moves that could result in lost jobs, including the privatization of state companies.
``Are you prepared to fight until our just demands are accepted?'' Lee Nam-soon, head of the powerful Federation of Korean Trade Unions, which organized the protest, shouted during a two-hour rally at a riverbank park.
Colorful placards and streamers filled the park. Half a dozen huge balloons the size of cars floated in the air with banners hanging from them reading ``Fight! Solidarity!'' Protesters later marched to the National Assembly.
The labor group, which claims a membership of 1.2 million, said it will organize a nationwide strike in early December unless the government retracts a bill to restructure state-funded firms.
The bill is being deliberated by the National Assembly.
The protests were peaceful and there were no reports of violent clashes with police.
In last week's protests which drew 20,000 workers, almost 100 people were injured, some seriously, in clashes with police, according to labor groups and police.
Sunday's protest was in support of the 23,000-member union of the state power utility, Korea Electric Power Corp., which the government plans to break into several units and sell.
A 950-megawatt gas-fueled electric power plant belonging to the firm has already been sold to a consortium of local and foreign firms, including Caltex and Texaco of the United States.
The government is under intense pressure to energize South Korea's economy, which is facing recession that experts blame on the slow pace of the government's restructuring of heavily indebted businesses.
In a drastic measure early this month, government-controlled creditor banks named 52 financially weak companies that should be shut down or merged for sale.
The move shocked tens of thousands of workers at those and other financially shaky companies that have been surviving on emergency bank loans.
Officials expect the business failures to force an additional 100,000 people out of jobs by year's end, raising the unemployment rate by a half percentage point to 4.1 percent.