[EDITORIALS]A Labor Union Leads the WayThe labor union of the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corp. has proposed to reform itself, which is good news for our gloomy economy. The union stated in its proposal that labor conflicts in our society have been deeply rooted in a loss of trust, and that it would reform itself voluntarily. By doing so, the union laid a cornerstone of reconciliation between labor and management.
The labor union announced Wednesday that its leaders would give up devoting full time work to the union, but would instead serve the union in addition to their regular jobs with the company.
Union leaders also said that they would reduce expenses in order to lower the union membership fee. The labor union emphasized that there would be no more union leaders paid to do nothing, and that the union would not be a self-interest group.
Labor-management relations in our society remain rather hostile, instead of being a partnership to develop the future in cooperation. Although the number of large-scale strikes has decreased this year, labor unions and management continue to confront each other sharply when discussing major issues such as corporate restructuring and the five-day workweek. Some unions lost their flexibility as their enforcement committees became bureaucratic. In some cases, large labor unions led violent struggles and advocated hard-line policies.
However, early this year, Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corp.'s labor union, which used to lead public sector strikes, reached an agreement in wage negotiations without a strike for the first time in three years. Now, the rapid transit corporation's union decided to shift its focus on improving welfare and working conditions for its members. The union gave up its old, drastic ways of labor activities such as staging violent strikes which caused the loss of public support.
The reform in the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corp.'s labor union will create a new window of opportunity through which labor unions and management will cooperate to overcome the current economic crisis. Since the union drew the reins by itself, it is now time for the employer to reply with a transparent management style and guaranteed job security.