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Umbrella union cancels May Day rally over ferry disaster

2014/04/23 17:36

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- An umbrella labor union on Wednesday canceled an annual May Day rally as the entire nation remained immersed in grief and shock over a ferry disaster that killed at least 150 passengers on board.

"We decided to call off the national May Day rally to mourn victims of the ferry Sewol and show sympathy to their families," said the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), the less militant of the nation's two umbrella unions. "We judged it would not be appropriate to hold a massive rally to present our demands in this solemn social atmosphere."

   Instead of a massive rally, the union said its leaders will attend various events to mourn the deaths of and lead a fund-raising campaign for the victims.

The union followed a number of public and social organizations and companies that have called off or suspended their spring festivities, promotional events, concerts and other events after the 6,825-ton ferry capsized and sank off the southwestern island of Jindo a week ago.

Of the 476 passengers aboard the ship, 150 were confirmed dead by Wednesday afternoon. Some 150 others remained unaccounted for, with most of them feared to be trapped inside the vessel.

Meanwhile, the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the more militant of the two unions, said it is also discussing ways to tone down its own events to mark the May Day.

"We won't cancel a May Day rally but are considering holding it in a different way to reflect the current social mood following the ferry disaster," a KCTU official said, requesting not to be named.

A final decision will be made during a meeting of central executives on Thursday, he added.