[EDITORIALS]Union or associationThe reaction of civil servants against a "public servants' association" bill that the government drafted and the National Assembly's parliamentary audits of local governments seem to split with public opinion. The government bill stipulates that the civil servant union cannot call itself a "union," but an "association." The association will have limited collective bargaining and organizing rights. The bill also requires a three-year probationary period before the association becomes official. The Korean Government Employee Union demands "a labor union that is guaranteed all three labor rights and launched without any probation."
The labor union, which is already active, warned that if the government draft passes the National Assembly, its 70,000 members would go on a general strike.
Considering the global trend, there is no way the government can stop the establishment of a civil servants union. But under the situation where the political neutrality of public servants is not a requirement, the establishment of a labor union of civil servants, in any form, could aggravate self-interest groups and political partisanship. We believe the government's draft is rational and realistic in that the government limits some union activities, making progress in stages.
The civil servant labor union's insistence on a guarantee of three labor rights, including collective bargaining, is excessive in a global sense. The union will have difficulty winning support from the general public. Besides, the current administration has only about three months left in office. There is no reason for self-inflicted confusion, hurrying to pass such an important issue as allowing labor unions of government officials.
Civil servants' use of physical force to stop a government audit is not just. As for assemblymen, they must discard inefficient practices like demanding 5,000 pages of documents from government officials only to spend five minutes asking questions. And civil servants will not be able to earn the trust of the general public if they, as shown in this most recent situation, take collective action to defend their selfish interests.