South Korean Union Stages Brief Strike Over US Beef ImportsBy VOA News
02 July 2008
Members of a militant South Korean trade union are staging a brief work stoppage Wednesday, to protest the resumption of U.S. beef imports.
Striking union workers of South Korea's Hyundai Motors shout slogans at plant in Ulsan, south of Seoul, 02 Jul 2008The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions says 130,000 of its workers will put down their tools for two hours at plants across the nation. The strike includes 45,000 employees at the Hyundai Motor plant in Ulsan, 400 kilometers southeast of the capital of Seoul.
The KCTU says it is staging the stoppage to highlight concerns among the South Korean people over the threat of mad cow disease, which first led to a ban on U.S. beef imports in 2003.
More than 100 protesters have been arrested since violent protests Saturday that coincided with the initial sale of American beef in the country. About 200 people were injured in the protests.
Religious groups have since joined the latest round of protests.
The protests first began shortly after the new government of President Lee Myung-bak agreed to lift the ban in April after negotiations with Washington. The protests forced Seoul to renegotiate the deal, which now limits imports of beef from cattle older than 30 months. That age category is considered to be more susceptible to mad cow disease.
Retailers say the initial sales of U.S. beef have been successful, despite the protests.