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S Korean train women ditch uniform, barred from job

By Staff
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SEOUL, Feb 26 (Reuters) Stewardesses on South Korea's bullet trains were today barred from working because they refused to wear uniforms in a protest about job security, back wages and better working conditions.

The 380 unionised attendants who work on the 300-kph KTX service turned up in T-shirts, blue jeans and sneakers and were stopped from boarding the trains, officials at the Korea Railroad Corp and the women's union said.

''The refusal to wear uniforms violates job rules,'' the railway corporation said in a statement. The women usually wear uniforms similar to those worn by airline cabin crews.

The attendants' union said the women's absence was not just an inconvenience for passengers but also a safety risk, especially as had been demonstrated in their role in a recent fire drill on the train, which runs between the capital Seoul and the southern port city of Pusan.

''We are ready to work. We have our name tags on and the hair net, like we normally do,'' Chung Hye-in, 27, said by telephone from Pusan. ''But they're stopping us just because of what we're wearing.'' The railway corporation said the absence of the attendants -- who are all female -- had no effect on the safety of the trains.

The attendants act as guides for passengers and also serve refreshments and blankets in the first-class compartments.

REUTERS PR BS1234

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