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(LEAD) Seoul city gov't bans labor group's planned street rallies this month

All News 13:48 October 10, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with KCTU's position, other details in last 5 paras)

SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- The Seoul city government has prohibited South Korea's major umbrella labor group from staging street rallies this month in accordance with a law on preventing the spread of infectious diseases, an official said Sunday.

The measure came in response to a formal report submitted by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) on its plan to hold outdoor rallies in some areas of the capital on Oct. 20. The KCTU stated it will carry out a general strike on the day.

City authorities, however, sent an official document to the KCTU notifying it of a decision to forbid such rallies. The city government plans to maintain a ban on street rallies as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, with stringent social distancing restrictions in place.

It raises the possibility that KCTU members will again push for "guerrilla-style" illicit rallies as they did in downtown Seoul in July that led to the arrest of the labor organization's leader, Yang Kyung-soo.

Under the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, the Seoul mayor is empowered to prohibit rallies in the city.

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) hold a massive street rally in Seoul, in this file photo dated July 3, 2021. (Yonhap)

The KCTU may bring the issue to a court for an injunction against the city's move, observers say.

Earlier this month, the Seoul Administrative Court suspended similar steps taken by the city, allowing activists to hold rallies on a limited basis, with the number of participants and hours of gatherings restricted.

It cited worries about infringing on the freedom of assembly via "excessive" regulations and significant progress in the coronavirus vaccination program.

The KCTU expects around 550,000 members nationwide to join the upcoming general strike.

"(They) will take to the streets in accordance with internal (antivirus) guidelines, which are stronger than social distancing rules set by the government, including vaccinations and PCR testing," the group stated.

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