Labor Unions to Run 150 Candidates for Parliamentary Elections

By Na Jeong-ju

Staff Reporter, Korea Times, 15th Sept.2003
The nationís two umbrella labor unions _ the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) _ plan to churn out over 150 candidates during next yearís general elections, signaling an intense competition between the labor unions and conventional political parties.

It is premature to say the labor unions will emerge as a main political force, experts say, but they will be a serious threat to conventional parties, which have been disrupted by internal feuds.

The FKTU said it will place as many as 150 candidates through the Social Democratic Party of Korea after organizing local election centers nationwide by late this year. A number of influential labor figures and trade union leaders will participate in the drive, the labor union said.

The KCTU will also choose 50 candidates within the year in preparation for the general elections after receiving applications from trade unions.

In the previous elections in 2000, the KCTU failed to win a seat in a closely contested election in Ulsan.

If needed, the two labor unions will join forces to pose joint candidates, according to union officials.

Their election campaigns will stress the restoration of labor rights and the implementation of a five-day workweek system, according to labor officials.

One of the biggest concerns for the political parties will be whether they will raise a public campaign to drop candidates known to have opposed reformative labor measures.