Authorities on heightened alert as labor group plans large rallies amid nationwide virus flare-up

김나영 / 2021-07-21 15:57:30
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labor group-rally concerns
▲ Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions hold a rally in front of the government complex in the central city of Sejong on July 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

labor group-rally concerns

Authorities on heightened alert as labor group plans large rallies amid nationwide virus flare-up

WONJU, South Korea, July 21 (Yonhap) -- State and local health authorities on Wednesday remained on heightened alert ahead of a major umbrella labor group's scheduled protest later this week in Wonju, as the country is grappling with a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 infections.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) plans to stage two large rallies in Wonju, about 140 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Friday with around 1,200 members reportedly planning to participate and a week later with an expected 3,000 members.

The events were reportedly arranged to support a walkout of unionized workers of the National Health Insurance Service's call center demanding direct employment status.

The KCTU said it plans to divide the participants into smaller subgroups of under 100 people to comply with the Level 2 social distancing guidelines placed on the Gangwon Province city. The Level 2 rule allows up to 99 people at public rallies.

But due to recent spikes in virus cases nationwide, the Central Disease Control Headquarters has asked the KCTU to refrain from holding such events, saying the country is at a critical juncture in the fight against the virus.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum also urged the group to call off its protests, saying the latest virus crisis is expected to escalate the most during the late July-early August summer vacation period.

Wonju residents have also shown concerns, saying the protests may lead to a mass spread of COVID-19 in the community. Some residents have even started gathering signatures for a petition calling for the cancellation of the rallies.

The municipality and health authorities said they plan to pay close attention to the Friday rally and respond sternly to any antivirus rule violations.

The local police have also beefed up their patrol force as a precaution ahead of the rallies.

(END)

(C) Yonhap News Agency. All Rights Reserved

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