[EDITORIALS]Public Servants Should Stop NowGovernment and the Association of Korea Government Officials are debating the legality of a demonstration of public service workers scheduled Saturday in Changwon, South Kyongsang province. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs argue that mass demonstrations by public workers clearly violate the law and intends to reprimand participants. But the public worker's association claimed that they were not the organizers, the rally had been approved by the police and, therefore, it was legal. The association argued a committee composed of 49 civic organizations, including the Korea Teacher's Educational Workers' Union and the Citizen's Coalition for Economic Justice, is holding the demonstration, and that it is not illegal to participate in such demonstrations after work. The committee was formed to reform the public sector and protect basic rights of public workers.
The association has stated clearly that the goal of the rally is to promote unionization of public workers and to demand ending public sector reforms. If the association insists it is not the one leading the rally, this can be seen only as hypocrisy. The current legal provisions on public officials forbid collective action and political activities by public workers and prohibit them from forming nationwide organizations. Why do the public service workers have to hold such large demonstrations, breaking the law and defying the national task of restructuring?
The association said among member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, only Korea bars the unionization of public service workers, and among members of the International Labor Organization, Korea and Taiwan are the only countries that prohibit public sector unions. Except for France and Germany, most countries do not permit collective job action by their public workers. Moreover, to revive the economy, Korea needs to win trust from abroad and complete reforms of the public sector is a prerequisite. The association should cooperate to revive the economy rather than raising its voice for a union.