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Parliament's labor committee convenes tripartite meeting to resolve KORAIL crisis

Updated: 2013-12-27 PM 10:41:25 (KST)
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Friday's meeting was the first time that the government, KORAIL management and its labor union came together since the union's mass walkout began on December 9th.
The parliament's labor committee had hoped to help them find a compromise, however, the three sides only reiterated their previous stances.
Both the land and labor ministers said that what the railroad union is doing is illegal, adding that they are opposing a government policy to bring about internal competition to railway services.
The government is pushing ahead with setting up a subsidiary company to run a new KTX high-speed train line from Suseo, southeast of Seoul, to the southern port city of Busan.

"The new Suseo KTX line will compete against other KTX lines, which is likely to create new demand. To reduce train fares, they may consider outsourcing and other measures. It will lead to better efficiency and more profits."

However, the railroad union says that since the new Suseo KTX line will be run by a corporation, it will eventually open the door to the privatization of KORAIL.

"Although it's stalled now, Germany's railway operator began to be privatized when a subsidiary corporation was set up. The Korean government is setting up a KORAIL subsidiary that's a corporation, and yet it's saying this is not privatization."

The land minister said the government was still going to issue a license for the new subsidiary, which the CEO of KORAIL also supports.
Earlier Friday, the KORAIL chief issued an ultimatum, telling striking workers to return to work by midnight or face disciplinary action.
The railroad union told lawmakers that it will end the strike only if the government stops the approval of a license, while adding that they are not against increased competition in the sector.

"The labor committee's ruling party lawmakers support increased competition, pointing out that KORAIL's debt amounts to 16 billion U.S. dollars.
However, opposition lawmakers said much of that debt has to do with failed government policies in the past, not issues of management."
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News.


And late on Friday night, the government did issue a license for the new KTX subsidiary, which will run a line stretching from Suseo, southeast of Seoul, to the southern port city of Busan.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Korean Railway Workers' Union said they would end all talks with the government and KORAIL management and launch a series of mass rallies over the next two weeks.

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