On the morning of 19 September 2016 the Chief Judge in the Appellate Court accepted the union’s application for bail for the last two remaining KCWU (the Korean Construction Workers Union, affiliated to BWI’s South Korean affiliate the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions) tower crane operators, KCWU Vice President Jeong Min-ho and Seoul-Gyeonggi Tower Crane Branch President Kim Myeong-uk.
They will now join the other members of the Tower Crane 15 that have also made bail, meaning the 15 accused will now stand trial without detention. It remains to be seen whether this decision will influence the final result of the appeal case.
On 2 June 2016 the KCWU Tower Crane 15 were found guilty under politically-motivated criminal charges of “blackmail” and “obstruction of business”, simply for engaging in collective bargaining negotiations. Vice President Jeong and President Kim were sentenced to two to three years incarceration, while the other 13 were given suspended prison sentences ranging from 8 to 18 months for the same charges.
These charges are part of a widespread crackdown of South Korean trade unions, designed to intimidate and threaten well-organised unions that have dared to oppose the Government’s neoliberal agenda.