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Rail worker strike enters third day

More than 6,500 South Korean rail workers continue strike against privatisation

More than 6,500 South Korean rail workers mounted a third day of strikes yesterday against an underhand government bid to privatise the network.

Rail union KRWU said Korail plans to accept private investors in an intercity bullet train service.

The union points out that the limits on private funds could easily be overturned paving the way for privatisation, mass job losses and fare rises.

Korail immediately branded the strike illegal - filing complaints with the police against nearly 200 union members and starting disciplinary proceedings against thousands.

The company says the strike is illegal, even though KRWU has provided the statutory minimum service.

The strike has caused little disruption as Korail brought in thousands of scabs to keep services running.

Underground workers have supported their comrades above ground, refusing to run extra services to ease disruption and threatening to down tools themselves on December 18.

The wave of strikes is unlikely to subside after Korail's board approved the setting up of a subsidiary to run the KTX bullet services.

Nearly 6,000 workers have been stripped of their railway company rank as the first step towards disciplinary procedures.

But KRWU said that morale remained high thanks to solidarity actions around the world.

International Transport Workers Federation (ITWF) affiliates staged demonstrations across Europe, Africa and the Pacific Rim.

South Korean embassy staff in London - the site of ITWF's headquarters - refused entrance to a delegation trying to highlight the strike.

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