Union leader steps down on vote-rigging allegations

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Union leader steps down on vote-rigging allegations

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and its some 560,000 members are embroiled in controversy over an allegedly rigged vote on postponing a new election system.

According to the KCTU, some representatives sent people to vote on their behalf without proper documents granting them that authority.

The trade union said it will conduct a self-inspection over the next three days.

In October, the KCTU held a meeting and passed an agenda item that postponed the date for their revised election system, which states that union members would directly elect their representatives, to go into effect in 2016.

Of the 426 representatives, 292 agreed to the plan.

Kim Young-hoon, KCTU head, resigned from his position immediately after the vote.

Kim became the head of the KCTU by winning an election after setting the direct election system as his main election promise, but later changed his stance and said the organization needs to delay the system.

“I must resign from the position because I want to take responsibility for breaking my word,” Kim was quoted as saying after the vote.

The KCTU will choose their new leader in an election scheduled for Dec. 11 with only one candidate, Baek Seok-geun, the head of the confederation of the construction workers’ union.

However, a problem occurred on Sunday as Kim Dong-do, head of KCTU’s Jeju office, told a local newspaper, which specializes in labor issues, that they found irregularities when they voted in October.

“We demanded the KCTU inspect the entire process,” Kim of the Jeju office was quoted as saying.

“About 40 people participated in the voting without valid representatives’ power of attorney.”

“I have nothing more to add beyond the local paper’s story,” he told the JoongAng Ilbo and hung up the phone.

Despite the issue, the trade union is still deciding what to do about leadership.

“Nothing has been verified yet,” a spokesman for the union said.

“A special committee that will inspect the voting is already formed. Many union members think the allegations over the rigged voting are reliable. The election for the new leader could be postponed by the issue.”

“Morality is the most important issue in a labor movement,” Lee Byung-hoon, a social studies professor from Chung-Ang University, told the JoongAng Ilbo.

“It must be difficult for the KCTU to gain the nation’s sympathy in the future if they found out the voting was rigged.”

By Kim Han-byul [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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