Weeklong strikes in South Korea disrupt rail transportation, while national police strikes in Argentina result in looting.
In South Korea, an international trade union delegation arrives Thursday to monitoring the rail strike and resultant police crackdown. Railway union leaders from Great Britain, New Zealand, Japan, Norway and Thailand will be on hand as observers to help ensure workers’ rights are upheld.
The ITF affiliated Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) has been on strike since December 9, 2013 when the government privatized Korea’s national rail network. Already, the Korean strike has delayed shipments of coal to two cement plants, forcing the companies, Yeongwol and Danyang, to use trucks for delivery.
Workers contend that privatization occurred with the promised consultation with the public and workers. Striking employees fear nearly 6,000 of their co-workers will be stripped of their company rank, and charges already have been filed against almost 200 union officials.
The railway strike is yet another indication of a restless workforce, following on the heels of September strikes by autoworkers, and a stagnant economy. Workers are attempting to decrease the influence of the powerful manufacturing groups. Politicians, in response, promote “economic democratization.”
In Argentina, while police strike throughout the country for higher wages, rioters have taken to the streets, looting shops and robbing homes. Police officers in 19 of the 23 provinces refuse to go on patrol. At least 10 people have been killed in the riots, including one police officer in the province of Chaco who was protecting a supermarket.
Federal police and border patrol officers have been deployed to the areas of worst looting since the first violence erupted last week in Cordoba, 700 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. Since then, the government as nearly doubled police salaries to about $1,915 per month, yet the strikes and violence continue.