[EDITORIALS]No more sympathy

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[EDITORIALS]No more sympathy

The prolonged strike of Korea's power industry workers has reached a critical stage. Limping operations of an infrastructure company linked to the livelihood of our people should no longer be tolerated.

It is deplorable that labor and management cannot strike a deal. Also lamentable is the government's incompetence in handling labor's use of illegal strikes to get its way. The union shows no signs of relenting, and workers of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co., which produces 40 percent of our electrical power, decided to hold a strike vote in support of a simultaneous walkout of workers of both unions.

It is fortunate that some leading figures in different walks of life have stepped forward as mediators. National Assembly legislators recently submitted a proposal to seek the people's opinion on the privatization of state enterprises at a public hearing. But mediators should not try to settle the dispute by proposing a revision of the law on privatization. The government made it clear that privatization would proceed as scheduled. Legislators would bring contempt on the National Assembly if they try to nullify the privatization plan instead of trying to deal with any ill-effects of the privatization.

Although power reserves are said to be over 20 percent, potential supply problems loom; prolonged operations under emergency conditions by untrained personnel and without proper maintenance increases the chances of a breakdown. The government will call in army technicians to operate the plants after training them, but that is insufficient.

Last weekend members of the Myongdong Cathedral congregation wrangled with some of the strikers. As the union acknowledged, it is natural for the churchgoers to try to protect their church. The cathedral can no longer serve as a sanctuary as it did during the democracy movement days.

Most of the union demands have already been met through arbitration at the National Labor Relations Commission. The government should always be ready to hold further talks, but at this point the labor unions should call off the strike and return to their workplaces.
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