Korean union leaders, USFK officials meet with arbitrator
June 18, 2005
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Korean union leaders and U.S. Forces Korea officials held a three-hour meeting Wednesday with a Korean Labor Relation Commission arbitrator, the union’s leader said Thursday.
Kang In-shik, leader of the 13,000-member Korean Employees Union for employees who work on U.S. military bases, said he and four colleagues met with eight USFK officials, including personnel and legal specialists, to discuss the U.S. military’s announcement that it might cut up to 1,000 South Korean jobs from its work force.
U.S. officials have said the cuts are necessary because South Korea reduced the amount of money it pays to help base U.S. troops on the peninsula. Officials from the two nations signed a two-year agreement in late April that requires South Korea to pay 680.4 billion won (about $680 million) annually, an 8.9 percent drop from last year’s payment of 746.9 billion won.
On May 20, 112 South Korean workers from Osan and Kunsan air bases were told they were to lose their jobs.
Kang released few details of Wednesday’s meeting but said the parties were to meet again Friday morning.
USFK officials did not return phone calls or e-mail queries in reference to the meeting.
South Korean labor commission officials have said that the union would have the right to strike in early July, after a 45-day arbitration period.
Union officials have said almost 90 percent of the labor organization’s members voted to host protest rallies in response to the proposed job cuts.