(ATTN: UPDATES 5th para; ADDS more info in paras 6-7)
SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), a major umbrella labor group, on Saturday staged large-scale rallies of nearly 50,000 members in the country's capital despite scorching heat.
Various labor unions under the KCTU, including those representing construction and service business workers, started occupying the streets in central Seoul around noon and gathered for the KTCU's main rally around 3:25 p.m., demanding the new government of President Yoon Suk-yeol to improve workers' rights and ensure better working conditions.
They were the first large-scale rallies staged by the KCTU since the Yoon government was launched in May.
Although the apparent temperature reached as high as 33.5 C around 3 p.m. in Seoul, the protestors, wearing wide-brimmed hats while placing wet towels around their neck, held placards and chanted slogans, like "workers are dying."
From downtown Seoul, the unionized workers started marching toward Samgakji Station near the presidential office in Yongsan ward around 4:30 p.m. They disbanded after the KCTU called an end to its rallies at 5:45 p.m.
The rallies caused huge traffic congestion in central Seoul, as cars were forced to use bus-only lanes.
Police mobilized more than 10,000 personnel in the central Seoul area to respond to the rallies, but no major clashes between the unionists and police have been reported.
Police earlier warned any illegal rally or demonstration that violates the conditions permitted by the court would be strictly handled.
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