Unions Should Show Restraint

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Unions Should Show Restraint

Conflicts between labor and management, together with the problem of unemployment, are emerging as important issues in the course of economic restructuring. Daewoo Motors faced a serious crisis Tuesday when its checks bounced because of a prolonged dispute between creditors and the company''s labor union. With the prospect of more companies undergoing restructuring in the near future, there is concern over possible conflicts between labor and management and between labor and the government. Construction unions have already declared their plan for a joint general strike and the two national federations of unions have announced their decision to go ahead with an all-out struggle against restructuring. When the proposed bank mergers take place, the conflict is likely to escalate.

We understand the position of the bewildered workers, who are suddenly faced with the danger of losing their jobs after working faithfully for the companies for years. It will not help anybody, however, if the course of restructuring and the liquidation of insolvent companies are delayed by the opposition of labor unions.

The workers should realize that blaming others for the failure of their companies and fighting against restructuring will not serve anybody, including themselves. They should try to find the best practical way to reduce the suffering and losses caused to all parties involved. If they do this, the managers and creditors should do their utmost to cooperate with them.

We urge the national federations of unions to think about whether a hard-line struggle is the appropriate course of action. Struggle or no struggle, the restructuring and liquidation of insolvent businesses are inevitable. If they are unreasonably delayed, more harm will be done both to the businesses in question and to the national economy as a whole. We advise the federations, therefore, to give up their hard-line approach and concentrate on more practical approaches.

We also urge the government to work out both long-term and short-term measures to minimize the losses and suffering caused to workers. It should make sure that the workers are paid all wages in arrears as well as redundancy allow-ances. It should also expand its job training projects and enlarge its unemployment compensation scheme. But before anything else, it should make efforts to improve the health of the national economy so as to boost employment.

by Song Chin-hyok

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