[EDITORIALS]Now Is Not the Time for WalkoutsDespite the fact that the entire peninsula is suffering from the worst drought ever, with children opening their piggy banks to donate funds to help farmers, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions seems set to go through with its plan to go out on a general strike Tuesday in which 200 companies are scheduled to join. Concern weighs heavy on us. The forecast for exports is gloomy; semiconductor prices have plunged, and trade pressures on the nation's major export products, including iron and steal and ships, has become serious, casting a dark shadow across our economy. Fuel prices and the prices of agricultural products shot up, triggering a rise in consumer prices. Under these conditions, large strikes will definitely harm the future of our country.
During the course of restructuring since the 1997 foreign exchange crisis, workers have suffered greatly. Yet, it is still important that strict and drastic restructuring is the only way we can survive. Taking decisive measures to shut down hopeless companies and the massive layoffs caused by such measures are an investment in the future. It is wrong for the pilots' union of Korean Air, a high-income group, to demand a big increase in allowances. It is not acceptable for the labor unions of public enterprises, which fell behind the most in the restructuring process, to join the walkout, calling for a retraction of restructuring measures. The general strike will have a negative effect on foreign investments, which have been declining this year. Furthermore, the problem will grow even bigger if the unions' demands are accepted, because it will be impossible to continue restructuring measures, such as shutting down insolvent companies and privatizing public companies.
Therefore, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions should drop its plan to go on strike Tuesday if it cares about the people, and persuade the labor unions to cancel walkouts. The Korean Air pilots' union, which will trigger a national crisis by paralyzing air travel, should follow the lead of the National Labor Relations Commission. The labor unions can prosper only when the nation and the people prosper.
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