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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Victory for Migrant Workers' Union in Korea

Posted to the IUF website 06-Feb-2007

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Korea's Migrants Trade Union (MTU), affiliated to the KCTU, won a key legal battle on February 1 when a Seoul High Court declared illegal the government's rejection of the union's notification of establishment. When the MTU, founded in April 2005, originally notified the Labour Ministry of its founding and intention to register the organization, the ministry responded that migrants had no right to union organization, representation or collective bargaining. On May 14, 2005, MTU President Anwar Hossain, a Bengladeshi by birth, was arrrested and held for 11 months in Cheonju Detention Center. In response to sustained protests in Korea and abroad, Hossain was finally released in April last year for medical treatment for injuries sustained during his arrest and health problems arising from his lengthy detention.

It has taken nearly two years for a Korean court to determine that migrant workers are, in fact, workers, and workers with rights. Now that the court has overturned the government's rejection of the MTU's official notification of the union founding, the KCTU has called on the government to immediately grant legal union recognition. "We hope", declared the KCTU, "that the decision will give new hope and spirit to the 400,000 migrant workers who have been suffering under the relentless crackdown and deportations. We believe this judgment provides a new opportunity for us to deepen our organizing and strengthen our struggle for migrant workers' rights."