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Police grill labor leader over massive July 3 rally

All News 16:57 August 04, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- The leader of a major umbrella labor group was questioned by police Wednesday on charges of holding a massive rally in downtown Seoul last month in violation of COVID-19 rules.

Yang Kyung-soo, chief of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), appeared at Jongno Police Station after rejecting three previous police summonses, saying the government has tried to blame the KCTU for its failure to contain the virus.

Yang Kyung-soo, the head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, speaks to the press before entering Jongno Police Station in central Seoul on Aug. 4, 2021, to be questioned on charges of holding an illegal rally in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. (Yonhap)

"It has been confirmed that there were no infections resulting from the workers' rally," Yang told reporters outside the police station, referring to the July 3 demonstration that the KCTU claims drew about 8,000 people. The rally was banned by both the Seoul metropolitan government and the police amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"In order to solve workers' issues, (the government) must listen to their voices," he said. "We have requested a meeting with the president, prime minister and labor minister several times (to discuss labor issues) but heard nothing back."

The militant group has demanded various improvements to workers' statuses, including the direct employment of call center workers by the National Health Insurance Service.

"It is completely up to the government to decide whether to sit down and talk with laborers or push them out to the streets," Yang said. "The KCTU is ready to both talk and fight."

Yang has been booked on charges of violating the Assembly and Demonstration Act and the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.

Three KCTU members tested positive for the coronavirus about two weeks after the rally, raising concerns the virus may have spread to other participants. The government later announced, however, that the infections were traced to a restaurant that the three had visited four days after the demonstration.

Police have booked a total of 23 KCTU members, including Yang, in connection with the rally and questioned 16 of them as of Tuesday.

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) march down a street in Jongno Ward during a rally in Seoul on July 3, 2021. (Yonhap)

nyway@yna.co.kr
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