[EDITORIALS]Striking at the World CupThe labor movement has issued an ominous threat by saying it will target the World Cup finals period for union strikes. Of course labor negotiations are not limited only to certain months, and strikes are inevitable when talks do not go well. But why anyone would try to make hostage of the event is beyond us.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions has said it will continue to resist privatization of public companies and that its member unions will go on a rotating strike beginning May 21, when collective bargaining begins. The federation of financial unions under the Federation of Korean Trade Unions declared that it would start a five-day workweek and would strike on the opening day of the World Cup games if its plan is blocked. Unions representing tourism industry workers announced a plan to strike at the end of the month, demanding permanent status for temporary workers.
If the Olympic Games in 1988 were a showcase for Korea, the World Cup games are a chance for us to further our credibility in the international community. If labor puts its words into action, it would be a selfish move.
Labor does have some justification for its demands. The government unilaterally declared the month-long period strike-free and mobilized its resources to push that demand through. Labor is reacting to the possibility of pressure on unions and illegal actions that might be taken against workers. The Labor Ministry should check up on the history of the "strike-free" designation to see if it involved any strong-arm tactics on the government's part.
Despite labor's strong words, the number of actual strikes will probably be limited. More than 400 major worksites have declared cooperative relations between unions and management, and the federation of autoworkers' unions has vowed that it will not strike during the period.
Labor relations need not take a holiday over the World Cup games. Strikes can happen, and the threat of the use of force will not stop them. But it would be beyond the public's comprehension if the success of the World Cup is held hostage to a particular group's demands. Both labor and management must do their part to make this a festive event.
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