“National Day for Labor” sets records

Over a million take to the streets in Suyang as IDU’s largest city comes to a sudden halt

By Political Correspondent Kim Su-yeon

SUYANG: The largest labor protest since 2005 is currently underway in Suyang, as workers from across various sectors of the economy have gathered in a joint strike to call for stronger labor protections. The protest is in response to the break up of a strike following a recent accident at a manufacturing facility in Seoyeon, and a leak by an Eirian Foreign Service Officer which has thrust the issue into the headlines across the IDU. Seizing the opportunity created, labor activists quickly organized a “National Day of Labor” to harness the newly generated energy around labor rights; it is estimated there are currently about 1.1 million protestors in the Commonwealth Square area, and that number is steadily increasing. The strikers have authored a list of demands including a reform of the legal code regarding protest for economic reasons, the institution of a minimum wage, protections enabling the formation of unions, and legislation prohibiting the targeted firing of workers for political reasons, especially attending protests or strikes.

The protest is being attended by some of the most influential leaders in Haesanite politics and culture. Both major advocates for labor reform in the National Assembly have brought large contingents, as Mireille Kim, the leader of New Bargain, and Devrim Köroğlu, the recently detained leader of the Social Democratic Party, are both in attendance. Supporters of New Bargain, waving their iconic seafoam green towels and banners, greatly outnumber the Social Democrats with their roses and crimson flags, showing a broader support for Kim’s institutional approach than the more radical Köroğlu. Actors like NFA-winner Seo Chae-won, along with sports personalities like AFC Seorin’s Lee Jae-min and Min Seon-min have also been spotted showing solidarity with the strike.

Suyang transit workers have joined the strike in solidarity with manufacturing workers, halting service on the vast majority of subway lines. While lines 1, 2, 4, and 5 use driverless carriages and are still operational, it is estimated that millions of commuters will be stranded in the city center. The Suyang municipal government is urging residents to remain home to decrease the congestion on roadways and the few transit lines still operational. The backlog for taxis at Suyang-Hanyeong International Airport now stretches several hours as the Haesanite Aviation Authority has urged a dramatic reduction in flights heading to Suyang, and it is expected that around 300 flights will be cancelled, with several hundred more delayed.

The protest, unlike the one in Seoyeon, has received court approval from a judge in Suyang. The petition is currently being appealed by the National Association for Freedom, a conservative legal defense organization. It is expected that the provincial appellate authorities will allow the protest to continue. Police are on standby in case of potential violence or rioting, but so far no police action has been necessary.

Suyang’s mayor, Han Ga-yeon (FD), has called the strike “an embarrassment to our city,” “disruptive,” and “an utter catastrophe.” National leaders have not yet weighed in, but it is expected Prime Minister Hwang will be faced with questions regarding the ongoing labor movement in tonight’s Question Hours. It is unclear if activists will try to continue the strike over multiple days; the economic damage is currently estimated to be in the tens of billions of pounds (SCT).

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