Korean Workers Protest US Army's Layoff Plan

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Hundreds of Korean workers employed on U.S. Army bases in South Korea rallied on Monday against the American military's plan to lay them off as part of cost saving efforts.

The U.S. military in Korea plans to cut more than 230 Korean workers by the end of February next year after its installation command, the U.S. Army Installation Management Command-Korea, was deactivated in September, according to the Korean workers.

The deactivation of the installation command came as part of the U.S. military's efforts to shrink expenditures as Washington comes under intense pressure to cut its defense budget.

U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has already notified the Korean workers of the layoff plan, said Kim Joo-il, regional head of one of the unions of Korean workers employed by the USFK.

"The U.S. military unilaterally notified us of the layoff plan," Kim told reporters during the rally held in the northern city of Uijeongbu, home to several U.S. bases.

Kim demanded the U.S. military "immediately withdraw its plan to lay off Korean workers and not to shift the responsibility of U.S. defense budget cuts to the Korean workers."

Officials at the USFK were not immediately available for comment.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Despite the planned defense budget cuts of more than $500 billion over the next decade, U.S. officials have pledged that Washington's military role in the Asia-Pacific region will not be affected.