::: Korean People's Action against FTA & WTO KoPA ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

2005-04-08 16:58:56
What is the Korean Street Vendors Confederation and its strategy?

<H2>Korean Street Vendors Confederation(KOSC)</H2><br><br><br>

- Shin Hee-chul, international director of the KOSC <BR>nfsvk@hotmail.com , http://www.nojum.org <BR>

<BR><BR>>> The history and struggles of the KOSC for recognition <BR><BR>

After the Korean War in 1950~1953 and the Industrialization by the Park Jung-Hee Military Regime in 1960s~1970s, street vendors increased by geometric progression. Refugees and peasants flooded into cities, find jobs and became street vendors. <BR><BR>

: Gangsters employed for crackdown by Uijeongbu City in September 2004

During the 1980s, Korean street vendors suffered countless crackdowns by all kinds of enforcement authorities such as ward officials, municipal officials, police, crackdown parties, public and civilian services almost all of them are from gangsters. Especially fighting against the national crack down under the cloak of 1986 Seoul Asian Games, street vendors recognized that we should organize ourselves and after the struggles we began to organize the CSVFKs(City Street Vendors' Federations of Korea). The CSVFKs had fought to gain rights to live against government's suppression and participated in the protest of June and the Worker's Big Struggle of July & August in 1987, which is the symbol of democratization of Korea. And this protest enabled Korean street vendors depend their own rights to live against the regime's suppression under the cloak of 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. On 13th June 1988, the street vendors came together and held "Convention to Protest the Street Vendors' Right to Live". Thorough this convention, Korean street vendors confirmed their solidarity with the national-democratic movements of Korea and at last organized the national organization, NFSVK(National Federation of Street Vendors of Korea, now 'KOSC') on October 1988. <BR><BR>
More than 18 years we've fought for the recognition that street vendors are also the subjects of Korean Society. But still, Korean government and municipalities prohibit street vending in that street vendors use public spaces for private purposes , the stalls invade citizens' rights to move on the street. So they do not recognize street vendors' rights to live, to organize ourselves, and to represent. <BR><BR><BR>

>> The way we organize street vendors<BR><BR>

In fact, Korean peoples' movement has its unique characteristics. <BR><BR>

Because of the military regime until 1992, even Korean formal workers have had difficulties in achieving 3 labour rights. And we street vendors and poors couldn't think we are also workers. So the KOSC organized the NFPK(National Federation of the Poor of Korea) with other poors' organisations, such as the NFEK(National Federation of the Evicted from housing of Korea), and also organized the Social Solidarity for the Poor, the KPS(Korean Peoples' Solidarity) with other organisations, such as the KCTU(Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) and the KPL(Korean Peasants League). <BR>
But during solidarities with workers, peasants and struggles for the democratization, we became comrades for each others. Korean peoples' movements are mainly inflluenced by these 3 sectors: Workers(for example, the KCTU), Peasants(for example, the KPL, and Poors(for example, the NFPK). <BR><BR>

But after the monetary crisis which attacked East Asia in 1997, so many informal economies increased and we've recognized these problems. And through solidarities with the StreetNet International and other organisations of the informal workers, we KOSC also began to realize we are also informal workers because we are working in the street with no social protection, not being able to find any jobs in the formal economy. We're beginning to learn from other organisations who are organizing informal workers such as street vendors, migrant workers, paper pickers, and so on.

<BR><BR><BR>>> The resolution of street vendors' problems through collective bargaining<BR><BR>

As we've said above, the Korean government and the municipalities do not recognize street vendors' rights and their organisation, the KOSC. So their is no formal collective bargaining system for us. <BR><BR>

The Korean government evades its responsibility to guarantee the street vendors' rights to live as human beings and has different opinions among the Ministries(especially among the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Construction and Transportation) Finally, they shift the responsibility on the Municipalities and street vendors. <BR>And the Municipalities begin to make 'informal' collective bargaining system only after our continuous struggles and demands to talk about the measures for street vendors to live. So, so many times they used to break their promise to respect the opinions of street vendors and the KOSC, to break up the civilian service workers -almost whom are gangsters- employed by them for crack down on street vendors. <BR>

: KOSC's National Congress held in Dongdaemun Stadium on 13th June, 2004

But although our situations are not good, we street vendors unite more and fight. And through solidarities with other peoples' organisations and with citizens, we've went through these difficulties and we've won.■ <BR>

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