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South Korea tries to squelch labor protest

January 6, 1997
Web posted at: 2:30 p.m. EST (1930 GMT)

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korean prosecutors and the management of giant industrial conglomerates launched a legal assault on militant labor union leaders Monday, trying to crush strikes that flared after a New Year's holiday break.

About 200,000 workers joined the latest wave of walkouts, idling car plants and shipbuilding yards. Hospital and broadcast unions were poised to join them.

Prosecutors issued summonses to 100 labor leaders but union heads said they would ignore the notices. Meanwhile, the nation's major businesses planned to sue union leaders for the illegal strikes, which they said have caused at least $405 million in lost production.

In Seoul, riot police fired tear gas at more than 10,000 marching workers angry at a new labor bill allowing companies to lay off employees, hire temporary staff and replace strikers.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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