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Rival parties show no signs of compromise over rail strike

2013/12/26 10:19

SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Yonhap) -- The ruling party urged the main opposition rival party Thursday to help persuade striking rail workers to return to work, reiterating a proposal to resolve the standoff with a parliamentary resolution banning privatization of the state rail monopoly.

Rep. Hwang Woo-yea of the ruling Saenuri Party made the appeal, saying the loss from the prolonged walkout is snowballing to over 500 billion won (US$472 million) and the rival parties should work together to improve efficiency of the state-run Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL).

More than 8,700 KORAIL workers walked off their jobs on Dec. 9 in protest against a government plan to establish a KORAIL subsidiary to run part of the high-speed train services. The union suspects the move is a precursor to privatizing the rail monopoly.

The government has repeatedly assured that it has no intention to privatize the planned subsidiary and promised to revoke the subsidiary's rail service license if its stakes are sold to private sectors. But labor leaders, opposition parties and other critics say they can't buy the assurances.

Hwang reiterated his proposal that the rival parties back up the government promise with a joint resolution against rail privatization. The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) has been negative about the proposal, saying the parties should make anti-rail privatization legislation.

Rep. Jun Byung-hun, the DP's floor leader, renewed the legislation demand.

"We should resolve this destructive situation, chaos and inconveniences in one strike, with the government talking with the union and the National Assembly revising the Railroad Enterprise Act," he said.

The ruling party says the demand is unacceptable because such a law conflicts with free trade agreements that South Korea has with other nations.

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