[EDITORIALS]Good labor newsIn a dramatic turn of events, a five-week-long strike over the government's privatization plans by workers at power utilities has come to an end. That is good news for both labor and management as well as the public and the Korean economy. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions has called off a planned general strike, and power workers returned to their work, so a long-awaited mood of reconciliation is expected in labor-management relations. Labor unions should take this opportunity to shake off their militant image and forge cooperative relations with management.
In a democratic country, relations between employers and employees are set by law, which also sets rules for solving disputes. The electrical workers unions' bid to scrap privatization was a nonstarter, and the umbrella labor group and power workers deserve credit for acknowledging, albeit belatedly, that privatization of state-run businesses is not a subject for labor-management negotiations.
In the end, the government showed a firm hand in coping with the illegal strike, defending law and order while solving the dispute. Government, businesses and workers should all work to establish labor relations based on law and principles.
Following the agreement between labor and the government, the remaining tasks include healing the wounds left from the battle and minimizing the aftereffects. Power generating companies should warmly accept returning union members, as promised, and be lenient enough to reduce the degree of disciplinary actions against fired workers. As power plants are located in remote areas, working conditions are difficult. Those working conditions should be made better and other steps taken for reconciliation.
The World Cup soccer tournament offers Korea a chance to promote itself before an international audience. The decision by unions at the Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation and other firms run by the Seoul municipal government to stay on the job during the tournament is also good news.
We hope that labor and management will go one step further after Tuesday's agreement to complete negotiations before the opening of the World Cup games so that the events can be an impeccable global festival.