NASUWT international solidarity award for the Korean Teachers' Union
The NASUWT, the largest teachers union in the UK, has opened its Annual Conference in Cardiff by presenting its International Solidarity Award to the Korean Teachers Union (KTU).
The award was presented to the KTU in recognition of its determination to continue to fight for quality education in the face of extreme hostility from the Korean authorities, who have attempted to outlaw the union and have subjected its members and officials to serious harassment.
The KTU was outlawed in October 2013 by the government, in breach of international standards, and lost its legal status in June 2014 when the Seoul Administrative Court upheld this decision.
The KTU has been filed an injunction against the ruling which has been accepted in the High Court.
The KTU has had its buildings raided and several of its leaders arrested and detained.
The union is facing the threat of further legal sanctions and attacks on its ability to operate and organise.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“Since South Korean President Park Geun-hye came to power in 2013, human and trade union rights have come under increasing attack and democracy has been undermined. Unions have faced mounting pressure with harsh repression taking place.
“The authorities have attempted to outlaw the KTU, to arrest and jail its officials and to dismiss others in a bid to prevent them being members of a trade union.
“Despite all of these attacks, the KTU is continuing its work to defend the human and trade union rights of teachers in South Korea.
“I am proud that the NASUWT has been able to play a part in offering solidarity and support to the KTU and all the brave teachers and trade unionists across the world fighting for freedom, social justice and human rights.
“In May, South Korea will host the World Conference on Education, which will address the global education goals post-2015. It would be ironic if the South Korean administration hosted the World Education Forum while outlawing the KTU, a trade union which is striving to stand up for quality education.”
Bak Ok Ju, Vice President of the KTU said:
“On behalf of all the KTU members in Korea, it is my great honour and privilege to receive this internationally prestigious NASUWT International Solidarity Award.
“I humbly take this award as recognition for our struggles past and present.
“This will encourage us more to push on with the fight for the future and to live up to the international acclaim this award bestows upon us.”