Saturday, June 17, 2006

BWI online solidarity campaign

Click over to the Building and Wood Workers' International site and support their campaign on behalf of worker rights in Korea.

From the petition:
Respect and Implement the Recommendations made by the CFA of the ILO;specifically:
- Ensure that public servants at Grade 5 or higher obtain the right to organize and limit any restriction of the right to strike to public servants exercising authority in the name of the State an dessential services in the strict sense of the term.
- Bring the Section 314 of the Penal Code of the TULRAA in line with Freedom of Association Principles
- Recall the prohibition of third party intervention in industrial disputes incompatible with freedom of association principles.
- Refrain from any act of interference in the activities of the KGEU.
- Cease all actions of intimidation and harassment against the KFCTIU.
- Review all convictions and prison sentences to compensate the KGEU and KFCITU officials for any damages suffered as a result of prosecution, detention, and imprisonment.

Friday, June 09, 2006

ICFTU publishes report on attacks on workers in 2005

For those deluded or cynical souls who do not recognize class warfare:

Brutal Suppression of Workers’ Rights Detailed in Worldwide Report

115 trade unionists were murdered for defending workers’ rights in 2005, while more than 1,600 were subjected to violent assaults and some 9,000 arrested, according to the ICFTU’s Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights violations, published today. Nearly 10,000 workers were sacked for their trade union involvement, and almost 1,700 detained.

South Korea receives dishonourable mention:

Kim Tae-hwan, of South Korean trade union centre FKTU was one of 17 Asian trade unionists killed during 2005, run over by a truck driver who was following police orders to drive through a picket line at a cement works.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I quit.

This is what happened.

A Korean-American teacher at the English Village in Seongnam (allegedly) assaulted primary school students while they were on a nature walk. Not long after, a Korean teacher at the English Village in Ansan (allegedly) assaulted middle school students in their dormitory.

Sohn Hak-kyu, the governor of Gyeonggi (where both Villages are located), apologized for the incidents and promised to improve supervision at the facilities.

This wasn't good enough for the Gyeonggi KTU office, which issued a press release entitled "It is not enough to increase supervision of sexual assault." The release claimed that the governor was ignoring "structural problems" with the Villages:

(1) teaching positions do not require a degree in education, and so underqualified people are hired;
(2) foreign teachers have a "free attitude" to sex, which a few hours of cultural education cannot remedy;
(3) foreign teachers are merely tourists, in Korea for the money or the "experience," and so are not suffiently devoted to their profession; and
(4) with 40 students in a classroom, teachers cannot conduct effective lessons.

The solution, the statement concluded, was to stop spending money on these Villages and to invest instead in public education.

First, I'll attempt to explain what I think Gyeonggi KTU was doing with the release.

The English Villages in Gyeonggi were founded by Governor Sohn, who is an important member of the conservative Hanarra Party. Public education is not a big priority for Sohn or Hanarra, and the KTU used the publicity surrounding the incidents to score some easy political points against Sohn, and to promote public education. Worthwhile goals, in my opinion.

But this is NOT an apology.

Gyeonggi KTU is cynically exploiting the currents of xenophobia that exist in Korea, to its own ends. The release deliberately targeted ill-informed and biased newsreaders, and I was shocked that teaching professionals would do this. The statement attacks EVERY FOREIGN TEACHER IN KOREA.

Unfortunately, despite appeals from various union members and foreign teachers, the Gyeonggi office has refused to retract their statement.

As SOMEONE must accept responsibility for this inane and hateful piece of propaganda, I will resign from the KTU.

This causes me a great deal of pain, as I have made many friends in the union, teachers who are wholly committed to their students and to their profession, and I still believe in the stated goals of the organization (even if the meaning of '참' continues to elude me).

안녕 KTU.

At least now I'll have more time to indulge in my depraved sexual pursuits. Oops, I mean I'll have more time to learn proper, Korean attitudes to sex.

The horror ...

Jason Thomas

p.s. My apologies for all the CAPS. I'M ANGRY.