Socialist Worker

Let's cheer for Korean workers

Issue No. 1803

AS THE World Cup unfolds in South Korea and Japan a very different drama is taking place near the main stadium in Seoul, the South Korean capital. The Korean government wants to deport thousands of 'illegal' migrant workers to 'clean up' the city while the world's media are there. It won't touch the businessmen and employers who control what the workers call 'a latter day slave trade'.

Workers and their Korean supporters have responded by setting up a protest encampment within the grounds of Seoul's main cathedral. 'I paid $5,000 to the brokers who brought me here. I have been beaten up, forced to work round the clock at the factory, and cheated by three different employers,' says 30 year old Bangladeshi worker Juddah Kabir. 'Now I am being punished and not them.'

'Conditions are even worse for the women,' says Sister Cecilia Kumyeon Lee, a nun supporting the workers' protest. 'Cases of rape are not uncommon.' Yi Yoonju is a trade union activist helping organise the migrant workers. He says, 'We invite news organisations from round the world to visit us at the cathedral to get both sides of the Korean story.'

Watch your screens and newspapers to see how many of the hordes of journalists in South Korea bother to take up that invitation.


In the bunker

FEW MARKET fanatics have come up with such a bizarre scheme as Min Byoung Kyun, the head of South Korea's Center for Free Enterprise. He thinks the country's well-heeled golfers could make money by agreeing to have nuclear waste dumps on exclusive golf courses.

He says the successful businessmen who use the course will understand that nuclear waste is not dangerous. Therefore they can become even more successful through his scheme. Maybe his scheme could be applied wherever the rich gather.


A conspiracy of silence let a criminal off the hook last week. The conspirators, and the criminal, were the police. 'We have officers who are prepared to be dishonest,' admitted Hampshire deputy chief constable Ian Readhead outside a court last week.

One of the Hampshire force's cars had been caught speeding on camera. A wall of silence meant it was impossible to identify which police officer had been driving the car.
Thanks to Tim from Southsea for this story.


And you thought Labour was good at elections

THE BALLOT for Labour's National Executive Committee is descending into a farce. Party members were told they could vote using the internet, the telephone or the post. They are allowed to vote for up to six candidates. However, the instructions which accompanied the ballot paper told voters to select 'TWO candidates'. When some voters tried to vote on the internet they were presented with a total of 12 bogus candidates.

Some people who attempted to vote by phone found that if they paused for more than three seconds they were deemed to have voted. For the first time lists of constituency parties who have nominated each candidate have been omitted from the material sent out to voters.

This could disadvantage centre-left Grassroots Alliance candidates Ann Black and Mark Seddon, who have the most nominations. And it may help Tony Robinson, a more pro-Blair candidate.


He's no Jekyll

KEVIN HYDE is the rail director of Jarvis, the Potters Bar maintenance firm. He gets £306,000 a year, and was the man who made the unfounded claims that saboteurs were responsible for the missing bolts that caused the Potters Bar crash.

Hyde was the lawyer who helped draft the legislation which privatised New Zealand's railway system. He was then rewarded with the chief executive's job at the privatised Tranz Rail company.

In 2000 soaring death rates on the privatised rail system led to an official government inquiry. It heard that between 1993 and 2000 there were more than 60 serious injuries and 15 rail workers were killed. In 1990 Hyde left New Zealand. He has since brought his talents to bear here in Britain.


Not taxing time for Triesman

THE GUARDIAN recently did an exposé of rich people who avoid tax by not registering their often luxurious homes in their own names. This scam is a way to avoid inheritance tax, stamp duty and capital gains tax, and the practice costs the government millions each year in lost revenue. The Guardian forgot to mention one highly placed person whose home is not registered in his own name.

David Triesman is general secretary of the Labour Party. His £750,000 north London home was bought ten years ago by Ginel Establishment, a Liechtenstein trust run by Edy Frick. Frick was the man who managed the offshore investments of the now dead crook and press baron Robert Maxwell.


A 30 year campaign to get a pedestrian crossing installed outside Worcester hospital has finally succeeded. Unfortunately it won't be much use. The hospital was closed down two months ago.


Things they say

'IF YOU travel as much as we do, you appreciate how much more comfortable aircraft have become-unless you travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.'
PRINCE PHILIP

'STEVE wanted to do anything Tony wanted in working for the party and committing himself to doing things across the country. Frank Dobson has been doing that for us in Burnley.'
LABOUR MINISTER on Stephen Byers' new role as Labour's campaign planner

'HIS reputation is that he is not that commercial. He likes to talk-it's hard to get him to stop talking-and he likes to be paid a lot for doing it.'
INDUSTRY INSIDER on Henry Kissinger's new role with US equity firm Hicks, Muse

'IT IS the prime minister who decides who is in the government. The prime minister is pleased that Mr Wills has taken on this new project.'
DOWNING STREET SPOKESPERSON on a friend of Gordon Brown's who was sacked and re-employed as a minister in record time

'THIS was presented as an opportunity to make a contribution. But the message was clear: this is Putin's pet project-make a contribution and he will be very grateful.'
OIL INDUSTRY INSIDER on why German companies have already stumped up £27 million towards Russian president Putin's new palace

'I'M NOT sure he was far left at the time. Politically it was difficult to position him anywhere. He's an ambitious politician.'
A CONTEMPORARY explaining that Paul Boateng was always ambitious rather than principled


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 8 Jun 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1803
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