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Police clash with striking rail workers, umbrella group vows general strike

Updated: 2013-12-23 PM 2:27:49 (KST)
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As the railway strike rumbles into its third week, rail operations around the country remain severely impacted.
To prepare for a prolonged strike, KORAIL announced on Monday that it plans to hire hundreds of experienced workers and interns who will be ready to work from January.
Currently Korea's bullet train KTX services are running at just 70 percent of normal levels.
Commuters in the capital region are also being inconvenienced as subway services in Seoul were reduced to 85 percent of normal levels starting Monday morning.
The country's industrial sector is feeling the pinch worse than the public, however, with cargo train services running at just a third of normal levels.
Some companies say they are running low on supplies amid the gridlock.
Adding to the frosty atmosphere between the strikers and the authorities, there was a major standoff Sunday between union members and riot police in downtown Seoul.

? "We will carry out the arrest warrants for the rail union leaders."

Hoping to round up key union leaders, hundreds of riot police surrounded the main office of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, a militant union umbrella group.
Union members created a human blockade, locked doors with chains and used fire hoses to push back police as they tried to enter the premises.
Denouncing the police's actions, the KCTU announced that its members will launch a strike from this coming Saturday, December 28th.
The government continues to demand the striking rail workers return to work.

"It has come to a point where the government can not tolerate this any longer, as the prolonged illegal strike is inconveniencing the public and affecting the national economy."

Over 1-hundred-30 union workers taken into custody Sunday are currently under investigation but the union leaders the police were hoping to get managed to get away.
The police have 48 hours to issue arrest warrants for the detained union workers or they will be released.
The strike started after the state-run rail operator, KORAIL, decided to create a subsidiary for a new KTX service a move union members say is the first step toward privatization.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.

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