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SEOUL: Thousands of South Korean workers staged a rally in downtown Seoul to demand better conditions, video images showed on Saturday, defying a government ban and shrugging off warnings that their protest could ignite a new wave of the coronavirus.

As South Korea battles a spike in infections fuelled by the highly infectious Delta variant, officials had denied permission for the protest, with Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum urging leaders of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to cancel it.

Marchers wearing masks blocked some of the main streets in the central district of Jongno, holding up signs with slogans such as "Stop restructuring!" and "Let's go! General strike!" video from the Yonhap news agency showed.

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