Monday, December 29, 2008

The KTU makes news in the north!

It's not every day that the KCNA mentions the Korean Teachers Union ...

December 27. 2008 Juche 97

Lee Myung Bak Group's Suppression of Jongyojo under Fire

Pyongyang, December 26 (KCNA) -- The Youth and Students Solidarity for Implementing the June 15 Joint Declaration of south Korea released a statement on Dec. 20 denouncing the Lee Myung Bak puppet group for their crackdown upon the Teachers' Union of south Korea (Jongyojo).

The statement accused the prosecution authorities of perpetrating such violent actions as searching the office of the Seoul branch of Jongyojo and confiscating documents there on Dec. 11 on unreasonable charges and committing similar crimes in the office of Progressive Network on Dec. 19.

This rowdyism is nothing but an undisguised targeted search and suppression perpetrated by the Lee regime under the pretext of "security" as it is aimed to destroy Jongyojo at any cost, regarding it as a thorn in its flesh, it charged.

It urged the prosecution authorities, a waiting maid of the Lee regime, to immediately halt the suppression of Jongyojo and the Lee regime to step down at once as it is keen to bring back the era of dictatorship.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hankyoreh on the challenges facing the KTU

[Editorial] The KTU’s long road back to achieving ‘true education’

“Who has called us educators?”

So started the founding declaration of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU, Jeon Gyo Jo) on May 28, 1989. The document starts with introspection about what teachers had become. “We have infringed on students’ ‘right to learn’ (hakseupgwon) by not responding to the demand for honest education and for having allowed ourselves to become the propaganda brigade of the ruling forces, because of the harsh coercion of the dictatorship regime as it tramples on the independence and political neutrality of education.”

The accomplishments in democratizing education that teachers, parents and students have achieved with sweat and blood in the two decades since the KTU began with that self-reflection as its point of departure are now like a lamp facing the wind. Just like the dictatorships, the Lee Myung-bak administration has made a concerted effort to turn education into part of the propaganda apparatus of the political establishment, turning local boards of education into the administration’s puppets. It has come to the point where teachers are being fired just for informing students of the mere fact they have a choice as to whether to take the state-administered examination, the ilje gosa. You are watching a return of the barbaric era of years ago, when roughly 1,500 teachers were fired at the time of the KTU’s early beginnings.

The administration’s attacks on history textbooks, in order to distort them to its liking while ignoring the scholarly and educational accomplishments in the area, are just one of its many barbaric actions. More basically, the problem is how education marketization policy is tearing education apart and causing extremes of socioeconomic polarization in education in general, this under the name of school autonomy. It is making students into test machines with “school diversification policy” and the policy on “giving schools choice,” which essentially means the revival of the fiercely competitive ipsi university entrance system. It is worsening education’s dependence on extracurricular, supplementary tutoring and turning education into a tool for handing down wealth and social status among the few from one generation to the next.

The KTU has chosen a new leadership team. It feels awkward having to congratulate the new leadership at a time like this. On the other hand, when has KTU ever enjoyed peaceful times? The dictators always tried write off democratic and humane “cham (true) education” as “communist indoctrination” while dismissing teachers who were aware of what needed to be done. The way current administration, the old establishment media, government education authorities at various national and local levels, and public security agencies have joined together as one in the effort is just like it was two decades ago.

The KTU achieved legality despite all the suppression, and it has been the main promoter of the democratization of education. It has been powered by the full support of parents and students, which itself originated in the KTU’s dedication and passion for cham education. In these dark times, we hope to see the KTU rise again for the long march of educational democratization, renewing the resolve it had at its founding, respecting the will of students and parents, and standing tall as the main doers of education that is true.

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Posted on : Dec.13,2008 13:25 KST

Saturday, December 13, 2008

[kctupower] KCTU President Arrested - Calling for Solidarity!

KCTU President Arrested!

Bro. Lee Suk-haeng, President, was arrested on 10:40 pm, December 5th by the police due to organizing an “illegal” general strike on July 2nd, 2008 and solidarity struggles to support E-land Retail Precarious workers strike in 2007. The July 2nd general strike was conducted to call for protection of people’s right to health and renegotiation of April 18 Protocol on US beef import to reflect food safety concerns. Since the June, 2007, the E-land Retail precarious workers union has conducted strike to protest against the termination of contract and illegal subcontracting by the employer which was aimed at evading relevant provisions in the new irregular workers bill that went into effect on the 1st of July, 2007. The KCTU organized various solidarity actions to support the E-land Retail Shop precarious workers strike.

Bro. Lee Suk-haeng would be mainly charged with “obstruction of business” provision in section 314 of the Penal Code due to the role in July 2nd General Strike and solidarity actions for Eland Retail precarious workers. However, we believe that workers organization should be able to use strike action to pursue solutions to problems posed by social and economic policies. And it should be noted that the ILO strongly urges that no one should receive criminal sanction or be deprived of their freedom for the fact of simply exercising the right to strike. In particular, we would like to emphasize that the ILO has recommended continuously that South Korean government “adopt a general practice of investigation without detention of workers and bring section 314 of the Penal Code (obstruction of business) in line with freedom of association principles.”

At the hearing to review a detention warrant against Bro. Lee on December 8th, the Court ruled the detention of him.

Facing this urgent situation, we are calling you to conduct every possible measure to urge the South Korean Government to stop trade union repression, implement and respect fully the ILO CFA recommendations and principles of freedom of association, and adopt a general practice of investigation without detention of workers including an immediate release of Bro. Lee Suk-haeng. [KCTU]