What Businessmen Want DoneA few days ago, five heads of business organizations issued a statement on the current domestic situation. It is rare for business representatives to join forces and criticize the labor sector, the government and political circles as one, urging self-reflection and self-restraint. This indicates business people''s fear of lurking doom. Business circles expressed concern over the labor sector''s move toward a hard-line struggle and made its stance clear by saying, "For the time being, we object to any revision of laws which undermine competitiveness and flexible employment."
It is true that their argument is somewhat slanted, but it is worth noting that business circles, so far having kept a low profile, have now come forward to raise their voice when conflicts are mounting between labor and government as well as between labor and management in public utilities. Out of five demands put forth by business circles, four points concern "the government, which stood idle until the situation deteriorated to this point, and politicians'' populist behavior." Even without this statement, everyone agrees that the government''s willy-nilly behavior and incapability, the politicians'' equivocal stances and a lack of measures against collective selfishness have all played a role in driving the economy to the brink of catastrophe. Accordingly, the government must accept the view that "a minority with a loud voice overwhelms the silent majority" and reflect it in future labor-management policy. In addition, the government must understand that "adherence to the principles of restructuring" and "the establishment of national order and the strict execution of law" are the opinions not only of the business sector but also of the general public.
The politicians, for their part, must realize that they have invited the public''s mistrust by getting themselves involved in a myriad of irregularities, and they are about to betray the public again as they embark on distorting the economic structure by endorsing the cancellation of farm debt and the revision of labor laws.
Instead of exhibiting unconditional rejection of the business sector, labor circles must search for a way of mutual survival by cooperation. Even though the shortening of legal working hours is the trend all across the globe, they should carefully re-examine if it is a good idea to push for this so earnestly when the economy is at its worst.
On the other hand, it is not right for the business sector to give the impression that it is pressuring labor by seizing the opportunity to take unfair advantage during an economic downturn. In fact, an economic crisis shows signs of recurring largely because of the failure of government policy and because of ailing companies'' mismanagement. In particular, the people are furious over some business people''s lack of morality, which has come to light in the process of administering public funds. Therefore, for the business sector''s statement to have stronger persuasive power, business people should have expressed their regrets over their mistakes and pledged to change.
Have the company owners gone through self-reform under the IMF supervision system? Haven''t they forced their workers to accept sacrifice, while they haven''t done much to transform themselves? Isn''t this why they are facing another crisis? It is known that business circles are planning to come up with follow-up measures to achieve their demands.
For the revival of the Korean economy, it will not do if every sector raises a separate voice. Both labor and business must step back and find a path to survival with concerted efforts.