- Title: SOUTH KOREA: STRIKE LEADERS LEAVE MYONGDONG CATHEDRAL.
- Date: 24th January 1997
- Summary: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (JANUARY 24, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 1. LV: NEWS CONFERENCE BY MYONGDONG CATHEDRAL IN SEOUL 0.07 2. MV: BACK VIEW UNION LEADERS AND MEDIA 0.11 3. GV/ZOOM/MCU: KWON YOUNG-KIL, PRESIDENT OF OUTLAWED KOREAN CONFEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS, SAYING "SOME PEOPLE MIGHT THINK THAT OUR DEPARTURE OF MYONGDONG CATHEDRAL COULD MEAN THE END OF OUR FIGHT, BUT I MAKE IT CLEAR THAT IT IS NOT" (KOREAN) 0.32 4. SV: MEDIA 0.36 5. MCU: KWON SAYING "WE ARE MOVING TO OUR OFFICE TO STAGE MORE FORCEFUL STRUGGLE" (KOREAN) 0.46 6. GV: NEWS CONFERENCE 0.51 7. GV/PAN: PHOTOGRAPHERS/ PAN TO KWON SHAKING HANDS WITH CARDINAL KIM SOU-HWAN 1.09 8. GV: TENT WHERE KWON AND HIS DUPUTIES WERE STAYING 1.15 9. GV: VIEW INSIDE TENT 1.20 10. MV/ZOOM/CU: KWON POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS OUTSIDE TENT 1.30 11. MV: KWON SHAKING HANDS WITH CATHEDRAL GUARDS 1.39 12. GV/MV: KWON WITH HIS DEPUTIES LEAVING CATHEDRAL FOLLOWED BY MEDIA (3 SHOTS) 2.12 13. GV: PEOPLE TEARING DOWN TENT (3 SHOTS) 2.36 14. LV: CATHEDRAL 2.41 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 8th February 1997 12:00
- Location: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
- Country: South Korea
- Reuters ID: LVA5KHGG1HT6C4DYO88XSUF1II55
- Story Text: INTRO: South Korea's strike leaders have marched out of Seoul's Myongdong Cathedral abandoning a ramshackle tent that served as their headquarters during more than a month of industrial strife.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- The shaven-headed unionists in South Korea left their refuge of Myongdong Cathedral on Friday (January 24) after coordinating almost a month of protests in the capital Seoul.
The unionists made a quiet exit from the gothic cathedral after police freed four colleagues who had been arrested for leading strikes against a controversial labour law.
The red-bricked church in central Seoul has been a symbol of anger at the law and alleyways leading to its grounds have been the battlegrounds between police and workers.
Confederation leaders pitched the tent on the icy cathedral grounds on December 26, the same day the ruling New Korea Party rammed the labour bill through parliament in a dawn session while opposition deputies slept.
Kwon Young-kil, head of the outlawed Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, and his deputies left in several cars after meeting Cardinal Stephen Kim.
But Kwon vowed to prolong protests against the legislation, which allows companies to sack workers and replace strikers.
"We are not softening our will to fight. We are moving to a bigger place from our small confines here to stage a more forceful struggle," he said. Another confederation official said Kwon would head for the group's office in the capital.
The confederation's move was in line with a peace offer by President Kim Young-sam who said on Tuesday he would order the suspension of arrest warrants against the group's leaders.
Kim's sudden reversal came after the confederation decided on Saturday to call off indefinite stoppages and limit industrial action to one day each week, on Wednesdays.
In a meeting with opposition leaders, Kim also agreed to reopen parliamentary debate over the law after admitting it had caused public anxiety and damaged the economy.
But Kim, who had previously ruled out a revision or compromise, said dumping the law would be unconstitutional.
Police released the four unionists from the Halla Heavy Industries' shipyard overnight after state prosecutors dropped charges against them, a prosecution official said. Another unionist was freed on Wednesday.
"The four were freed overnight," a prosecution official told Reuters. "This means that no union leaders are under detention in connection with recent illegal strikes." He added that 15 other outstanding arrest warrants for leaders of the confederation would be returned to several courts, thus invalidating them.
The move by unionists to abandon the church, which they had also utilised to avoid arrest, should help ease tension between the government and union leaders over the law.
Labour Minister Jin Nyum said on Thursday the government would no longer tolerate illegal strikes, and the ruling party blasted the opposition for rejecting the offer to reopen parliamentary debate on the new law.
Jin did not specify what measures would be taken against strikers.
The opposition rejected the offer by Kim, who is president of the ruling party, saying any debate in parliament would be held on condition the law was first dumped.
Political analysts said Kim was set to raise the stakes in a tussle for public opinion over the law, which he argues would free up the labour market and boost economic competitiveness.
They said that by reopening debate on the law, Kim had turned the tables and would hound the opposition for continuing a national crisis as concerns mount over the slowing economy.
The ruling party said the president's concession removed grounds for any opposition or union resistance.
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