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SNU president to meet strikers, heat restored

Feb 12,2019
Heating at the library at Seoul National University (SNU), which has been cut off since last Thursday, was restored Monday after the university president agreed to review the demands of striking electricians and maintenance workers.

The maintenance workers have been on strike since Thursday, demanding a pay raise and a higher retirement age. They took over the mechanical rooms of the library, main administration building and the engineering department building, turned off the heating and staged a sit-in to prevent any other staff members from entering. These workers, who were once contract employees, were hired full-time by the university in March last year, following the Moon Jae-in government’s move to end contract employment in the public sector.

“We may be full-time on paper, but our monthly salaries are still lower than 2 million won [$1,780],” one maintenance worker said at a press conference hosted on campus Friday. “We want equal treatment as the original full-time salaried workers of the university.”

“The cleaning and security staff have also been demanding that their retirement age, which is 68, be raised to 69,” a university staff member told the JoongAng Ilbo.

“We are sorry about cutting heating to the library,” said Lee Sung-ho, one of the workers on strike, Friday. “But we hope the students will understand where we are coming from and speak on our behalf too.”

The student body of the university issued a statement supporting the workers’ cause Sunday.

“The university administration needs to stop putting off negotiating with the workers on their salaries,” it said in the statement. “The student association recognizes that the requests made by the union members are necessary to guarantee basic living standards and hereafter unite with them in their cause.”

The maintenance workers turned on the heating to the library around 2 p.m. Monday, prior to their meeting with the university administration at 4 p.m.

“President Oh Se-jung said he will review the workers’ requests in a positive light, and the workers responded by turning the heating back on, hoping to reach an agreement at their meeting at 4 p.m.,” the student body said in its statement. “The strike has not been called off yet.”

Oh began his tenure as president at the university Friday, right after the strike began.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]


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