Korean Teachers Join Union Protest of Iraq Occupation

Korea Teachers’ Union Announces Anti-War Classes

Digital Chosun Jun 28, 2004

The Korean Teachers & Education Worker’s Union announced that the days from June 28 to July 3 would be designated a mourning period for late Kim Sun-il, and they would hold “anti-war” classes during the period.

The Korean Teachers’ Union said they decided to start classes against the war with the late Kim Sun-il’s murder as momentum, claiming that this is based on the decision that educators should be responsible for teaching the facts that peace is a universal value, and peace is precious. Teachers can download and edit materials for the classes from the union’s homepage.

Materials against the war consist of Kim Sun-il’s profile, summary of the events, will, emails, Iraqis’ opinions about the troop dispatch to Iraq, the summary of pros and cons and the National Assembly’s resolution to stop and reexamine the plan of the additional troop dispatch.

Meanwhile, an official from the Ministry of Education said, “After close examination, we think that the data on the homepage of the Korean Teachers’ Union is a collection of objective facts, and said that they would send an official document to schools to make sure that the class is not used to instill distorted points of view in students. The Ministry of Education said that if students and parents report teachers who conduct classes with ideological prejudices, the teachers would be investigated and taken care of according to the law.

(Ahn Seok-bae, sbahn@chosun.com )

Solidarity Message with Korean Trade Unions

via email, Jun. 28, 2004

Statement of UUI and FWCUI regarding the Opposition of Korean Trade Unions to the Deployment of more Korean troops in Iraq

Dear Friends in Korea

Dear Friends in KCTU and Labor Uninos of Korean Air and Asiana Airlines

The Workers in Iraq welcome the opposition of Korean Trade Unions to the plan of Korean Government to dispatch more troops in Iraq.

The labor unions of the nation’s two airliners, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, declared Thursday June 24 .2004 that they refuse to transport anything related to the troop dispatch to Iraq, including Korean soldiers to be stationed in Iraq along with armor and related equipment. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions – KCTU demands on June. 23rd 2004 cancellation of the plans to dispatch troops to Iraq, as one of its main demands for the first half of this year, in order to avoid sacrifice of further lives. We demand that the Korean government not play puppet to the foreign policies of the US and that it take a firm stance again it, and that it protect the rights and the lives of its citizens.

War and occupation of Iraq diverted the Iraqi society toward instability, chaos and battle fields of a terrorist conflict between political Islam and US -led coalition.. In short, untold misery and suffering have been imposed on the people of Iraq. The U.S. government has placed Iraq on the verge of total collapse and within arm’s reach of dreadful scenarios like, civil war, religious sectarianism, ethnic cleansing, and tribalism. The invasion of Iraq brought terrorism not only to people of Iraq but also on the global scale. Democracies, freedom of Iraqi People from the fascist government of Iraq ….ect were only war propaganda. Iraq War was one of the steps of USA to establish its New World Order and to implement its hegemony and Dominance over the World at the same time the political Islamic groups in Iraq have transferred Iraq to a battle field of their terrorist actions. Terrorism, insecurity and violence against the human rights, labour rights and women rights are the prominent features and part of the daily lives of the people of Iraq. People of Iraq became the victims of the war of terrorists both state terrorism of USA and Islamic terrorism. The workers in Iraq suffered on one side from the aggression of Saddams regime for 35 years and on the other side from the economic embargo for 13 years, war and occupation of USA- led coalition on Iraq.

Last year on February 15, millions of people and workers worldwide opposed to the war on Iraq and demanded to stop the aggression and war crimes of USA government to launch war on Iraq. Thousands of trade Unions and workers organisations along with freedom loving people protested until now against the occupation in Iraq and demanded immediate withdrawal of the occupying troops from Iraq. We the independent labour unions in Iraq have launched an international campaign to end the occupation and for labour rights in Iraq since March 2004 and until now labour leaders and unions from more than 40 countries have supported the demands of this campaign and an appeal presented by us to ILO for full implementation of ILO conventions Nr. 87 and 98 in Iraq confronting the oppressive steps of the US- civil administration and Iraqi Governing council in violating the labour rights in Iraq.

The UUI is a genuine representative of unemployed workers. The UUI, along with the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq-FWCUI , is striving to end the occupation in Iraq and pressing all governments who sent troops to Iraq to withdraw them from Iraq, struggling for a secular government, for political freedoms, for improvement in the security situation in Iraq, for improvement in the living conditions of Iraqi people and put forward a democratic labour law as alternative labour legislation which guarantee unconditional freedom for Iraqi Workers to organise and strike and full implementation of the ILO conventions in Iraq.

We hope that you will be successful to prevent intervention and military involvement of the Korean – Government in Iraq because the result of all these Conflicts are only more blood sheds of the millions of innocent people in the war of Terrorists and we express our full solidarity in your actions against the deployment of Korean troops to Iraq and for withdrawal of not only Korean troops but also all occupying troops from Iraq.

We call all labour organisations and Unions worldwide and specially in USA and UK to join this action of Korean trade unions to end the occupation in Iraq and for immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and for a better future for Iraqi society and the working people of Iraq.

Long live freedom and equality.

Long live Willpower of the Labour Movement

Aso Jabbar

Representative abroad of Union of Unemployed in Iraq and the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq

June 28 2004

EPIC Turns to Employment Crisis

EPIC believes catastrophic unemployment – conservatively estimated at 30% – is fueling Iraq’s security crisis. “While foreign contractors are making windfall profits, millions of Iraqis are unemployed. That is fueling a lot of anger and resentment, which in turn, strengthens the insurgency,” says EPIC Director Erik Gustafson. “To help restore security and save lives, aggressive job creation should be the number one priority.”


Featuring a Special Report on Iraq Jobs by John Howley


Korean Airline Unions Refuse to Transport Troops to Iraq

from digital chosun

The labor unions of the nation’s two airliners, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, declared Thursday that they refuse to transport anything related to the troop dispatch to Iraq, including Korean soldiers to be stationed in Iraq along with armor and related equipment.
The Association of Airline Unions, founded by both the national airlines and the employees of Incheon International Airport and Kimpo Airport, said Thursday that in accordance with the policy of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions [see KCTU text & link below], that they are against sending more troops to Iraq and will launch an all-out struggle against the deployment.

The association said, “Both Korean Air and Asiana Airlines should not sign contracts with the government to transport troops to Iraq… If they sign such contracts, the security of our union members cannot be guaranteed as they may become a target of terror during operation… Also, in order to show our rejection to a war of invasion, we will suspend all flights.”

In response to the unions, the two airlines pointed out, “We haven’t been asked by the government to transport troops to Iraq,” and “unconditionally rejecting something before even negotiations have begun is going to far.”

(Lee Wee-jae, wjlee@chosun.com )


Korean Trade Unions Oppose Iraq Deployment

Plan to deploy troops to Iraq has taken away an innocent life of Kim Seon-Il. Stop Deployment Now!

The sacrifice of Kim Sun-Il was expected, as long as the government was to push for dispatch of troops to Iraq. However, the government did not fulfill all that it could have done, and we now consequently face a tragedy. We cannot but be angered by the act of killing innocent lives. At the same time, we are adamant in our denouncement against the dispatch of troops to Iraq by the Korean government, an act that has brought about this tragedy.

There is no national interest that is greater than the lives of a country’s citizens. Whatever justification the government may use for the deployment of troops, the events that are actually taking place are drawing citizens into the war that US implemented. It is inevitable that sacrifice of young Korean soldiers and of innocent citizens continue.

This has to stop. Plans to dispatch troops to Iraq must be completely re-examined.

The KCTU demands cancellation of the plans to dispatch troops to Iraq, as one of its main demands for the first half of this year, in order to avoid sacrifice of further lives. We demand that the Korean government not play puppet to the foreign policies of the US and that it take a firm stance again it, and that it protect the rights and the lives of its citizens.

We strongly reaffirm that the KCTU and all its members will stand at the forefront of the struggle to cancel plans to deploy troops to Iraq.

23rd June, 2004

Korean Confederation of Trade Unions

Counterpunch Excerpt

Iraqi Unionist Abdullah Muhsin reports conversation with Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) [see link to FKTU page below]

As for activities of the Iraqi unionists at Geneva, the only accounts I found were written by the embattled unionists themselves. Abdullah Muhsin, the London-based voice for the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) reports a very interesting conversation between his delegation and Korean unionists.

“The meeting focused on the presence of Korean troops in Iraq and the proposal for an additional 600 soldiers to go to Iraq to help with humanitarian needs for construction, and for medical aid,” reports Muhsin.

“The meeting also discussed the 30 June transfer of power to the Iraqis, the role of the UN and the proposed draft UN resolution on Iraq.”

“Both sides agreed,” reports Mushin, “that the occupation of Iraq must now end, that the UN must take a leading role in the [future] of Iraq and that real power and sovereignty must be handed to the transitional Iraqi government established on 30 June 2004.”

Muhsin’s report evades details of any conclusions that might have been reached during that conversation regarding the 600 additional Korean soldiers. Should they stay home? Should they come to Iraq only under UN supervision? An independent reporter might have pressed those questions.


Homeland Security vs. Worker Power USA

In this country the D.H.S., specifically tasked with keeping the population safe, was created in language that specifically excluded the possibility of workers in that agency joining unions for collective bargaining.

We can join any union we want, from the Teamsters to the IBEW to the ILGWU, go to meetings, enjoy the fraternity of our union brothers and sisters….we just can’t have whatever union we may belong to bargain for us.

The Iraqis might beware of similar regulations placed upon them within the structure of the transfer of “sovereignty.”

This administration seems intent upon creating Iraq in its own image and I doubt, therefore, if unions will be permitted any meaningful voice within the power structure unless they make clear somehow that they will not be ignored. I think unions will be allowed, even “encouraged” so that workers can be organized, tabulated in fact, and whatever they say will be reported and perhaps commented upon somewhere. I do not believe this administration will allow unions any meaningful voice (power) in the “democracy” of Iraq and, in fact, I think it likely that any union action to wrest power from the hands of the companies and the government will be categorized as “insurrectionist” and could be dealt with quite harshly as “defense of the homeland.”

We shall see.

John Gillmore
[via email, posted by permission]