[EDITORIALS]A labor tragedyLabor disputes at Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co., rekindled by the suicide of a laborer who burned himself to death Jan. 9, have reached a stalemate as labor and management blame each other. Labor is stepping up its offensive, planning a nationwide rally and a boycott against Doosan products.
Factors this spring may contribute to further instability in labor relations, with many issues unsolved as the current administration winds down. We must prevent the labor dispute at Doosan from prompting other disputes.
After evolving from Korea Heavy Industries and Construction Co., Doosan went through restructuring, which last year prompted a 47-day strike and a nasty feud between labor and management. The dispute was only subdued at the end of the year. We regret that the suicide occurred as this year-long dispute was about to end.
"Payday is two days off. I was not paid for more than six months, but there is no money that I can receive," the dead worker wrote in his will, which signifies the frustration and desperation of workers who were driven into a dead end following a prolonged strike.
The complexity and delicacy of the issue calls for us to be cool and levelheaded. But it seems that emotion, not reason, now seems to fuel the situation. Umbrella unions like the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions have jumped in and taken the initiative. They have decided to hold a strike and a general laborer's rally, and demand an apology from Park Yong-sung, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Their actions may carry political significance, but that's not related to the essence of the case.
As established practices are not always kept in labor relations, we cannot expect any improvements if laws and principles are swayed. The management at Doosan said it will handle the aftermath of the labor dispute in the interests of the workers and make all funeral arrangements for the deceased worker. Meanwhile, the government must clarify the cause of his death through an autopsy and wrap up the issue thoroughly and fairly.