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SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- Leaders of unionized rail workers agreed to end their prolonged strike after the ruling and opposition parties promised to form a parliamentary subcommittee aimed at ensuring no privatization of rail services, lawmakers said Monday.
The breakthrough came three weeks after some 8,700 workers of the Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL) walked off their jobs on Dec. 9 in protest of a government plan to establish a KORAIL subsidiary to run part of the high-speed train services. The union suspects the move is a precursor to rail privatization.
The government has repeatedly assured workers that it has no intention of privatizing rail services, and promised to revoke the subsidiary's rail service license if its stakes are sold to private sectors. But labor leaders have been skeptical of the assurances.
On Sunday, leaders of the rival parties on the parliamentary transportation committee worked out the breakthrough deal with KORAIL union leader Kim Myung-hwan. The three-point agreement calls for strikers to get back to work as soon as the subcommittee is formed.
The subcommittee's establishment was seen as aimed at backing up the government's assurances of no rail privatization. It provided the union with a face-saving way out of the walkout, as the government has stuck to its no-compromise stance despite disruptions in rail services.
According to the agreement, the "subcommittee on rail industry development" will be composed of the same numbers of lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri and the main opposition Democratic parties. If necessary, a policy advisory panel can also be established that includes officials from KORAIL, its union, the government and civilian experts, it said.
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