Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Seeing the Plight of the Workers.

Both Catholic papers brought to the attention of the readers the Simdo Textile Factory (1967-68) incident which inaugurated the Church's entrance on the side of the workers in their struggle for justice. 

Incheon Diocesan Labor Sunday, commemorated the day with a symposium recalling the forming of a labor union at the Simdo Textile Factory, and the struggles required. Workers at the factory considered themselves dust rags, exploited and oppressed and decided to  form a labor union. Members of the  JOC (Young Christian Workers) were leaders in the formation of the labor union, angering the company, all fired and spied upon.

Fr. Michael Bransfield, a Maryknoller, was pastor of the Catholic Church on Kangwha Island who gave them space and indirectly supported the workers, which angered the company. They warned him for breaking the law against helping Communists, and threatened him with arrest.

The bishop of Masan, who later became the ordinary of Seoul, Cardinal Kim, was the  president of the JOC  at that time, representing the Church, he came to the island to speak with the workers.The bishops responded with a statement that supported the workers in their efforts. They were successful and all the fired workers were reinstated.

During the symposium the  first  topic of discussion  was recalling the Simdo Textile incident, and its  meaning; second topic was the situation of laborers and the future, third was the direction the Church is to walk with the laborers.

On May 10th many of those who were involved in the forming of the textile labor union went to the grounds of the old textile factory, and put up a monument on the  grounds of the factory to remember the incident that opened the eyes of many to the  problems of workers in society, and the first step in the Church's involvement in society,speaking in support of the workers.