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Hanjin workers must fight for their rights
Church must pay attention to workers, who are the majority of the people of our timeFather Vincentius Kim Jun-han
- Father Vincentius Kim Jun-han
- August 12, 2011
The essence of the social teachings is â€ślaborâ€ť. Thatâ€™s why the Church must pay attention to workers, who are the majority of the people of our time.
Striking workers at the Hanjin shipyard in Busan have been demanding the company abandon its plan to lay off 400 employees, announced in December 2010.
Their struggle is being led by trade union member Kim Jin-suk, who spent her 219th day of protest today in the cabin of a 35-meter-high crane.
Kimâ€™s protest in a crane represents the reality of the workers who are driven to the brink of a cliff and struggle to survive.
The point of the Hanjin strike is the workersâ€™ right to live.
Every evening, the laid-off workersâ€™ families gather and pray at the shipyard. They are not asking for more wages or better welfare. They just want the right to work.
Tens of thousands of people from all over the country flooded into the shipyard in Busan on â€śBuses of Hopeâ€ť to support them. It was because Kimâ€™s outcry has moved peopleâ€™s hearts.
The chairman of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, Cho Nam-ho, and his family took over the first shipyard in South Korea with the governmentâ€™s support long ago.
But Cho is a vicious entrepreneur who has made a tool of workers only for his family in the name of globalization.
Mass layoffs and moving domestic capital overseas have followed. Such behavior is no more than social murder that destroys not only workersâ€™ lives but their familiesâ€™ lives.
Cho constructed another Hanjin shipyard in Subic Bay in the Philippines but the workersâ€™ situation in the Subic shipyard is not much different from workers here.
Cho, who has learned bad habits from South Korea and is accustomed to them, will annihilate the Philippine workersâ€™ rights as well.
He refused to acknowledge any social responsibility and fled abroad. Cho held a press conference in Busan on August 10 upon returning home and shed crocodile tears while refusing to withdraw the planned layoffs.
He paid out extra dividends of tens of billions of won (several million US dollars) to his family and stockholders but does not want to give out a penny for the workers who have struggled to hold on to the company.
Many peopleâ€™s desire is very simple. They want Cho to withdraw the planned mass layoff and to continue to run the Busan shipyard along with the Subic one, because it is not right to close one of the two only for capital profit.
We are going to keep gathering at the Busan shipyard to pray for Godâ€™s help and draw peopleâ€™s attention. And tens of Catholic priests and Religious, along with hundreds of Catholics, celebrate Masses on the street to support Kimâ€™s cause and pray for a speedy settlement.
The street Mass is our small effort to practise the will of Jesus, who loves workers.
During the Mass we also remember the workers at the Subic shipyard as a gesture of solidarity with them.
Father Vincentius Kim Jun-han is president of Pusan diocese's Committee for Justice and Peace
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ucanews.com
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