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Lee urges striking railroad workers to return to work

All Headlines 10:03 December 02, 2009

By Byun Duk-kun

SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak again urged striking railroad workers Wednesday to halt their walkout and immediately return to work, saying the strike is not only illegal but also unreasonable.

The call came one day after Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun declared the strike illegal in a joint press conference also attended by Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee and Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Kyoung-hwan. The strike began last Thursday.

"The most serious problem facing the world right now is the lack of jobs. Staging a walkout when their employment is guaranteed cannot be understood, especially when our own young people are suffering from a lack of jobs," Lee said while visiting a crisis control center at Seoul Station, according to the presidential office.

The president visited the train station in central Seoul on his way to Daegu, where he was set to attend a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Regional Development.

The president said the government will not give in to any unreasonable demands from the striking workers of the state-run Korea Railroad (KORAIL), noting that setting a bad precedent could do far more damage than the prolonged strike itself.

"The principle must be observed under any circumstances and once a rule is broken, it will continue to be broken," Lee said.

The president also ordered his officials to help minimize any inconvenience for citizens, noting the reduced capacity of passenger trains may add to their costs, according to the presidential office.

Since the start of the strike, KORAIL has maintained the capacity of its express KTX trains at full level while the operation rate of slower, cheaper trains has been cut by nearly half.


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