(LEAD) Labor groups hold various Labor Day rallies in Seoul

Various labor groups, including the nation’s two major umbrella unions, held large-scale rallies throughout downtown Seoul on Monday to commemorate Labor Day.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the more militant of the two major umbrella unions, organized a rally, named “world Labor Day convention” in the central district of Jongno from 2 p.m. and declared its plan to stage a general strike in July.

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions march toward the presidential office in Yongsan following a Labor Day rally in downtown Seoul on May 1, 2023.

The KCTU insisted the rally attracted about 30,000 participants.

After the rally, KCTU members marched in three directions — the presidential office in Yongsan, the Seoul Regional Employment and Labor Office in Jung-gu and the Constitutional Court in Jongno.

At the same time, members of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), the other major umbrella union, gathered in Yeouido to hold what it calls a national labor congress. The group also claimed about 30,000 people attended the gathering.

The FKTU called for efforts to deter labor reforms, raise the minimum wage, promote the transition to “labor-centered justice,” and stop revisions of the Serious Disaster Punishment Act and the pension systems.

Members of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions hold a Labor Day rally in Seoul’s Yeouido district on May 1, 2023.

In the eastern coastal city of Gangneung, a labor union official attempted self-immolation outside a court Monday, just hours before he was scheduled to attend a pretrial detention hearing on charges of business obstruction. He sustained serious burns and remained unconscious.

Yang Kyung-soo, the chairman of the KCTU, condemned the Yoon Suk Yeol government over the self-immolation of the Gangneung official during the rally, saying it was caused by the government’s excessive suppression of labor unions.

The Federation of Public Officials Union, which has complained that civil servants not covered by the Labor Standards Act are discriminated against by being forced to go to work normally even on Labor Day, held a rally in front of the National Assembly in Yeouido from 1 p.m.

The union has long demanded that civil servants be guaranteed a day off on Labor Day.

Workers of leading food delivery app Baedal Minjok, or Baemin, held a rally in front of the company’s headquarters in southern Seoul around noon to mark Labor Day and demanded a rise in their basic delivery fee, frozen for nine years, from 3,000 won (US$2.24) to 4,000 won.

The Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, a disability rights advocacy group, also held a rally near Seoul City Hall in the afternoon.

Source: Yonhap News Agency