[EDITORIALS]Slow down on union bidPresident-elect Roh Moo-hyun's transition committee proposed that the new administration allow the creation of a labor union for government employees. We believe that the new government should take a more cautious approach to the issue, considering the possible impact on the bureaucratic community of allowing a civil servants organization to refer to itself as a "labor union" and to join umbrella labor organizations.
The transition team says that permitting civil servants to organize a union is not only an election pledge made by the president-elect but also an issue that the government can no longer shun, given the global trend. The panel's proposal that the level of activities of a government employees union be allowed to reach that of the teachers union seems to have resulted from the team's recognition of civil servants' determination to create their own union at the risk of their jobs.
But if a civil servants organization is permitted to operate under the label of a labor union, they would be workers first and civil servants later. The transition task force said that the new administration would acknowledge only the right to unite and to hold collective negotiations with the government. In reality, such limitations will eventually lose their effect. If the union goes on strike in alliance with umbrella labor organizations, the public would suffer.
The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has introduced to the National Assembly a bill that allows civil servants to form an organization defined as a "cooperative," not a union.
We are not opposed to the idea of a civil servants union. But we are concerned that at a time when their political neutrality is not guaranteed, a union might become one bent on protecting its own interests and cause bureaucrats to turn to political activities.
That is why we supported the step-by-step approach by the current administration. We believe that the new administration should try to fully reflect public opinion on the issue, rather than pressing ahead.