Han Sang Gyun, President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), is the recipient of the annual Febe Velasquez Trade Union Award, awarded in absentia at the FNV Congress yesterday. KCTU’s Vice President Lee Sang Jin collected the award on Han’s behalf, since he is currently imprisoned in South Korea on politically-motivated charges. The Building and Wood Workers’ International, along with other global unions, nominated Han for the award.
“We are incredibly proud that President Han has received this award for his immense contribution to the struggle to defend workers’ rights in South Korea”, said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “Han’s courage is legendary and his commitment to the working class unparalleled. Even from prison, his influence is catalytic, inspiring others to take action.”
Han has been incarcerated since December 2015 for charges that stem from unauthorized rallies called by the KCTU between April and November 2015. He is now serving three years imprisonment on traffic obstruction charges related to those rallies, which were part of the KCTU’s campaign to prevent the former Park Government from passing neoliberal labour reforms designed to cut wages and make work less secure.
In a statement released by the KCTU, Han expressed his humility over the award. “I fully understand that this is given not to myself as an individual, but to the KCTU and our struggle. Most recently the KCTU was in the front lines where we were the fuse and wick of the candle lit by 17 million people who successfully ousted President Park Geun Hye.”