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Seoul Metro labor, management to meet on eve of threatened strike

Nov. 21, 2023 - 10:58 By Yonhap
Unionized Seoul subway workers hold a rally in downtown Seoul on Wednesday, to announce their decision to go on a general strike over a manpower reduction plan. (Yonhap)

Labor and management of Seoul Metro, the operator of subway lines 1-8, are set to hold last-minute negotiations over manpower reduction on Tuesday, one day before a general strike threatened by its unionized workers.

The final talks are to begin at the company headquarters in eastern Seoul at 4 p.m., according to union and company officials.

The biggest of Seoul Metro's three labor unions, which is affiliated with the militant umbrella Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has threatened to launch an indefinite general strike on Wednesday in protest against the company's downsizing plans.

The KCTU-linked union already staged a two-day "warning" strike early this month in protest of the city-run company's bid to reduce its workforce by 13.5 percent, or 2,212 employees, by 2026 to address its chronic deficit.

Seoul Metro, saddled with a cumulative deficit of 18.4 trillion won ($14 billion), has said downsizing is inevitable to normalize management, while the labor union claims a drastic cut in the workforce could lead to safety issues.

The general strike, if implemented, will be staged only by the KCTU-affiliated union, which has the largest number of members, with the two other unions not joining them like in the warning strike.

The Seoul city government and Seoul Metro have vowed to respond sternly to illegal strikes under the principles of zero tolerance and "no work no pay." (Yonhap)