Workers' Patience Is Essential

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Workers' Patience Is Essential

The Federation of Korean Trade Unions has declared that it will leave the labor-management-government Tripartite Commission and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions has held a mammoth outdoor rally in downtown Seoul. It is quite understandable that workers should feel frustrated when they are facing renewed danger of mass layoffs after two years. Blame should be put squarely on the incompetent government and unfaithful businessmen who have betrayed the hard-working laborers.

Whoever may be responsible for the situation, however, all-out confrontation with management and the government is not the best option for workers at the present moment.

For the economy to recover and be strengthened, resolute restructuring is needed to drive out insolvent businesses, and the laying-off of unneeded employees is an integral part of this process.

Workers have to share the responsibility for insolvencies with management. Our workers cannot be guaranteed permanent employment while workers at flourishing U.S. businesses face the constant danger of layoffs. It is also true that of the four areas of reform the government has been pursuing, labor''s is the most behind. The labor sector does need a lot of changes.

We urge the two union federations to think over carefully which policy will really benefit members. Workers should also consider what can be won through struggle and make a wise decision. We have already seen at Daewoo Motors what can be achieved by extreme confrontation.

It would not be wise of the unions to confront both management and the government at a time when the national economy does not seem to have much room for maneuver.

If such conflicts lead to the collapse of the economy, the workers themselves will suffer the most. Instead of trying to pass the buck to other sectors, business, financial or public, the labor sector should volunteer to lead the reforms. In the present situation the combined efforts of all sectors of society are needed to secure the nation''s economic future, and refusal to cooperate on the part of workers would likely be enough to cause an economic collapse.

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