Joint Statement of Japanese and Korean Railway Workers against Privatization

We, Japanese and Korean railway workers, have determined to issue a Joint Statement to declare our will for crushing the privatization, deregulation in the public sector and neoliberal labor policy, and to stand up for solidarity with workers of the world struggling against capitalist attack.

Korean Railroad Workers' Union (KRWU) Seoul Regional Division

National Railways Motive Power Union of Chiba (Doro-Chiba)

We, Japanese and Korean railway workers, have determined to issue a Joint Statement to declare our will for crushing the privatization, deregulation in the public sector and neoliberal labor policy, and to stand up for solidarity with workers of the world struggling against capitalist attack.

Neoliberal policy is now on the verge of collapse, being unable to control the contradictory developments which have been produced by its own desperate practice. The time has come for workers of the world to act together on the forefront of the struggle in the coming age with their united power.

Neoliberalism has brought about a huge number of casual workers who are deprived of the right to existence and to enjoy their future. Increasing disparity and poverty are prevailing and the whole structure of the society is collapsing. Also neoliberalism has set free brutal power that devastates all means of social life: public transportation, social insurance system, education and healthcare, etc. Callous greed has taken control of all the society. It has been exposed in Korea by the recent Ferry Sewol disaster which killed 304 high school students and other passengers, and in Japan by the Amagasaki railway accident in 2005, in which 107 lives were lost.

The deregulation of finance has triggered world-wide flood of speculative money flows, resulting in the repeated bubbles and bubble bursts, which produced destruction of jobs and wages accompanied by mass unemployment at each occurrence. Furthermore, enormous national financial funds have been poured into the money market to save the banks and monopoly corporations. It’s inevitable outcome was fiscal collapse. Under the pretext of overcoming the crisis, further accelerated attempts of wholesale privatization and dismantling of social security system have been carried out with fresh increase of poverty, national oppression and escalation of war.

In the year 1987, neoliberalism swallowed the whole Japanese society by the thunderstorm of the Division and Privatization JNR(Japanese National Railways). And in Korea as well, during the last half of the 1990s this onslaught went on in a full-fledged way:  fierce winds of privatization and Structural Adjustment Programs hit each section of society with terrible force, particularly on Korean National Railroad.

Even at this very moment, tearing voices are exclaiming, "We’ve had enough!" These sounds of anger are echoing throughout the world.

Starting with the establishment of the KCTU(Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) 20 years ago, the Korean labor movement has overcome many hardships, and is moving forward with immense power.

In 2015, ignited by the unmerciful attacks on workers in the name of structural reform of the labor market and forcible privatization, Korea is in the midst of a huge wave of general strike demanding the resignation of President Park Guen-hye. These developments have been triggered by the KRWU's 23-day strike in December 2013 against privatization. This struggle was a turning point in changing the whole situation just as the media reports: “It is quite amazing and exceptional that a single labor union's strike has made history by forming strong public opinion against privatization.”

Park Guen-hye administration, scared by this powerful struggle, attempted brutal oppression such as mass arrests of union leaders, unjust and unlawful dismissal of over 130 union members, ousting of 8,600 workers from employment job position, demand of several tens of billion Won of damages and provisional seizures of union assets. But our unwavering solidarity will be strengthened and we will continue to organize a powerful fight against the "Second Plan of Normalization" and the attempts of shifting to subsidiary companies and introducing of divisional organization (profit center approach) for railway privatization. If the Park Guen-hye government still continues to force upon us such neo-liberal attacks, we, railways workers will fight back with a powerful general strike that exceeds the preceding uprising of 2013.

Succeeding the first general strike on April 24, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions is now preparing for the second general strike being scheduled for the end of June or the beginning of July. It's slogans are: “A great general strike of workers and all working people to crush the anti-labor, anti-democratic and corrupt government! ”“Down with Park!” “Let's go on general strike!”

The division and privatization of JNR was the greatest attack to dismantle Japanese labor movement in the postwar period. All at once the employees of JNR were fired and then selectively “newly hired” by the privatized new companies or JRs. As a result 200,000 railway workers were thrown out of jobs. This unprecedented onslaught on the railway unions was legalized by the National Railway Reform Act, which caused the reduction of the membership of the 240,000-strong Kokuro (National Railway Workers Union) into a mere 40,000. Two years after that, Sohyo (General Council of Trade Unions of Japan) was also driven into dissolution. Meanwhile, over 15 millions of workers were forced into irregular employment. Thus a way has been paved towards the amendment of the Constitution and the exercising of the right of collective self-defense.

Doro-Chiba, however, waged two waves of strikes against Division and Privatization of JNR and defended its unity. Since then Doro-Chiba has been shaking JR regime, carrying through over 30 years the struggle against the dismissal of the 1,047 national railway workers and the struggle against the outsourcing.

We are now confronted in Japan with the second round offensive of Division and Privatization by the JR Companies with ultimate outsourcing and union busting.

Meanwhile, Abe administration’s desperate drive toward the revision of the Constitution and war has been met with mounting anger of Japanese people. Okinawan people are starting to explode their anger. General strike is impending. In Osaka “Osaka-Metropolis Scheme” which aim at the wholesale privatization of municipality in the same form as JNR privatization was rejected through referendum.

We hear the powerful voices of workers echoing throughout the world, the workers’ voices who are suffering under the same attack and advancing forward for the same hope. Now we are standing at the crossroads of history. It's time to stand up for us workers who have been forced a race to the bottom in the endless competition and being insulted, to re-establish pride, unity and solidarity.

We have decided to send out this appeal, with the pride of railway workers who have been committing own lives to the struggle and standing resolutely at the forefront of the struggle, hoping to strengthen the cross-border and industry-wide unity of the workers to defeat monstrous neo-liberalism. Only the united struggle of workers can make the history and change the society. Let's unify the power of workers around the world. Let's make our way together.

7 June 2015