[EDITORIALS]Union Is Ensuring Its Own DemiseThe success of any labor movement depends on the support of the public. Labor activists know all too well that labor movements have never succeeded without this vital backing. But it seems the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions has fallen into its own trap by calling a general strike opposed by the people.
Even President Kim Dae-jung who employed softer measures towards the labor movement, unlike the former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the former U.S. president, ordered strong measures, including the intervention of law enforcement authorities, to deal with the strikers. President Kim, commenting on the Korean Air pilots' strike, said, "I cannot understand why pilots receiving high incomes would go on strike demanding a raise."
We perceive that the illegitimacy of this general strike accounts for the President's hardline attitude, not a change in his view. We have pointed out many times that the demands of trade unions are unreasonable and they did not follow the legal process required for going on strike. The KCTU expresses its opposition to the American missile defense plan and demands the resignation of the current administration. Their demand, however, has nothing to do with the protection of labor's rights, and it can not be compared with the enormous damage caused to the people and the national economy.
The demands of the Korean Air pilots' union to ban the employment of foreign pilots and reduce the number of currently employed foreign pilots, the demands of workers at Seoul National University Hospital that an equal number of representatives from labor and management should form the personnel management panel and that the cumulative scale system on retirement allowance should not be scrapped cannot be accepted entirely because they violate the rights of management. The manager of a company should decide on employment and the amount of salary according to the ability and experience of the employees. Therefore, decisions on the employment and payment of foreign pilots cannot be a subject of labor-management discussions.
Management has the right to decide on the retirement allowance system. It is unreasonable for the hospital labor union to protest the abolition of the cumulative scale system of the retirement allowance, when public firms as well as private companies annulled the cumulative scale system as part of reform measures.
All the more, there is severe moral hazard among labor unions of some corporations going on strike. The labor union of the petrochemical firm, Yeocheon NCC, has been on strike for an extended period of time, which is causing great damage to related industries. Workers of Tongil Heavy Industries Co. and Kohap Corporations, which are under court receivership and a debt restructuring program, respectively, are on strike, demanding pay raises and protesting restructuring.
It is ridiculous that the Daewoo Motor labor union is conducting a movement to oppose the takeover of Daewoo by General Motors and that some labor unions of affiliated banks, which have been incorporated into a financial holding company, are seeking independent survival. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions thinks only of its own survival regardless of the situation of other people. Their attitude has to do with the drastically reduced rate of union membership, which stands at only 10 percent. This kind of labor movement will lose public support and make the prospects of the labor unions cloudier.