[EDITORIALS]Go back to work, unionistsThe worst case scenario has materialized: The walkout of the power generation unions led to a breakup of 2,500 rallying workers by force Sunday, and the looming dismissal of workers who did not return to work Monday, the government-set deadline.
If about 4,000 workers who make up most of the unionized membership are fired, as the government reiterated Monday, it would be the first such mass firing since teachers staged strikes to establish a union in the late 1980s. The conflict between labor and management of the five power companies should have been resolved much earlier. Even now, the two sides should hurry to address the issues if they are aware of the repercussions that a head-on collision would cause.
After forcefully dispersing unions that had been staging protests on the campus of Yonsei University early Sunday morning, the government adamantly proclaimed that it will go ahead with its dismissal process of power workers Monday and that it is willing to limit electricity if necessary. As for the government, it cut off the last road that may lead to negotiations.
The privatization of the power generation industry is an irreversible choice of the general public that passed the National Assembly. We have repeatedly admonished the power labor unions to scrap their illegal walkout. We think it is inappropriate, however, to overlook the mass dismissal of 4,000 workers. We believe that the road to catastrophe - paved by this head-on collision - should not be taken.
But the government must not retreat from its stance. The reasonable solution to address this situation is for the labor unions to go back to work. We believe that is the wisest way to resolve the disturbance in the power generation industry and to formulate a framework for the future labor relations.
We believe the conflict in the power generation industry should not be a stumbling block during the upcoming World Cup or in the ongoing economic recovery. It is a relief to know that the leadership of the power unions proposed dialogues with the government, without conditions. We encourage the unions to take a further step, and go back to work first - and then commence negotiations.