[EDITORIALS]An uncivil actionSeveral developments concerning the civil servants union have occurred recently that are hard to comprehend. A new bill on the Labor Standards Act that guarantees all three labor rights to the government workers' union, and that does not restrict people to whom the bill applies, was introduced at the National Assembly a few days ago.
Yesterday, the union of Korean government employees voted overwhelmingly for a strike as a means of protesting against a "public servants' association" bill. With the Kim Dae-jung administration soon drawing to an end, and with the presidential election to be held in December, it appears the civil servant situation will continue on, muddled as always. By using an illegal collective action, the civil servants union is breeding even more and more anxiety.
The government's "public servants' association" bill, which is under audit by the National Assembly, stipulates that the civil servants union cannot call itself a "union," but an "association," and limits its collective bargaining and organizing rights.
This newspaper has no reason to oppose a civil servants union and has stated that a gradual implementation by the government of a union with some limited rights would be reasonable considering the special status of civil servants. However, the draft that was motioned by 43 legislators, who had accepted the demands of the union, treats civil servants as general laborers and allows them the right to engage in political activities, not to mention collective bargaining and organizing. It is quite obvious the confusion such a law that exceeds international practice would cause in Korean society.
Studying the present state of the National Assembly, we find it unlikely that the "public servants association" bill will be passed this session. Instead of wasting precious time trying to solve a problem that seems to have a long way to go, the government and the union should leave it to the next administration. That means the union should first withdraw its illegal collective action.