|Police try to prevent members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions from occupying a street in downtown Seoul, Wednesday, during a labor rally. Yonhap|
By Bahk Eun-ji
Civic groups and local governments have filed complaints with the police against the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) for pushing ahead with mass rallies across the nation, Wednesday, in violation of the social distancing measures and the law on assembly.
The umbrella union organized a general strike and held demonstrations, including one in Seoul where about 27,000 participants took to the street, even though such a large-scale gathering was illegal according to the current social distancing measures. Not only the public health authorities, but also many citizens have expressed concerns over a possible virus resurgence as the nation is moving toward a "Living with COVID-19" scheme.
A civic group representing people preparing for the bar exam filed a complaint with the police, Thursday, asking them to punish all participants of the rallies for violating the laws on assembly and infectious disease prevention, as well as the obstruction of traffic and business.
"Despite the government's repeated warnings, those KCTU members pushed ahead with the illegal rallies for political purposes," the group said in the complaint. "Because of the illegal demonstrations, citizens suffered a great inconvenience, including serious traffic chaos, merchants around the rally sites saw their sales decline, and the people are fearing a virus resurgence."
The KCTU's stated three goals for the general strike were: the abolishment of irregular labor and a full revision of the Labor Law, a ban on layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a reduction of the defense budget while strengthening government support for housing, medical care, education and care labor.
Another civic group representing conservative college students and a coalition of self-employed individuals also filed complaints against several KCTU leaders with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, saying the union was causing harm to the public.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government also filed a complaint with the police against the union leaders and all the participants of the Seoul rally.
Citing the social distancing measures, the city government had previously banned all 10 rallies that the KCTU had reported it would hold on the day, but the union pushed ahead with the illegal events by occupying all roads at the Seodaemun Station intersection for two hours.
"These acts are clearly in violation of the law on infectious disease prevention and ruin the foundation of the system to prevent the spread of diseases," a city government official said.
For its part, Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency asked about 10 members of the KCTU leadership to appear for questioning, saying that this number could increase.