Four union leaders of YTN taken into custody just before walkout commences

Posted on : 2009-03-23 11:46 KST Modified on : 2009-03-23 11:46 KST
NUMW condemns the government as gagging media
 the President of National Union of Media Workers at Namdaemun Police Station in Seoul on March 22.
the President of National Union of Media Workers at Namdaemun Police Station in Seoul on March 22.

The police has taken into custody four key union members of the 24-hour news channel YTN on charges of obstructing business operations, curbing their plans for an all-out strike after recent breakdown in wage negotiations.

The Namdaemun Police Station said yesterday that it is investigating the four YTN unionists including their leader, Roh Jong-myun, who were taken into custody from each of their homes. They are accused of blocking new YTN chief, Ku Bon-hong, from entering his office, protesting the government-appointment to the helm of the broadcasting firm. Officials of YTN management have filed charges against unionists five times. The police said that they took the unionists into custody since they did not appear for questioning despite repeated requests.

“There are many things to be clarified but they didn’t show up,” a police officer said. He further clarified, “If they are found to have hampered business operation systematically and persistently, we also plan to have an arrest warrant issued.”

YTN union members countered that they have fully cooperated with the police investigation. “(The four members under custody) have complied with the police request to appear for questioning four times before and they also agreed last week to appear again on March 26.” Their compliance raises suspicions that this recent police action is intended to hamper their efforts to hold a walkout.

The YTN union says that it has formed an emergency taskforce headed by Kim Yong-su, a senior union member, and will go ahead with the planned strike scheduled for 5 a.m. on Monday. The National Union of Media Workers also issued a statement, calling the latest police move as “illegal” and condemning it as an attempt by the government and the ruling party to gag the media.

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