[EDITORIALS]Time to settle this strikeIndustry observers are worried about the prolonged labor dispute at Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co. that was shoved to center stage by the suicide of a worker who set himself afire in January. Just recently, there was another violent clash between the company’s labor union and security guards at the company, leaving a few dozen people injured and causing more financial damage. We hope the labor dispute at Doosan can be prevented from expanding to the annual “spring wage struggle” while other economic uncertainties loom.
The situation is bad. Government arbitration efforts were as fruitless as the earlier labor-management talks. But the arbitration effort may still contain the seeds of a solution.
The Ministry of Labor drafted arbitration guidelines and asked Doosan Heavy’s management to lift sanctions against workers and provide a part of the wages that the management withheld during a strike last year. Management accepted those conditions ― in other words, it conceded that it had abused its right to levy sanctions on the union and its workers. But the labor union rejected that arbitration draft, saying that the plan lacked a promise by management to withdraw its damage suits against the union.
But damage suits are about the only legal weapon management has against illegal strikes. The Labor Ministry gave up, saying there was nothing to arbitrate and that labor and management would have to find the solution on their own. Organized labor is taking the offensive, saying it will decide on whether to link the dispute to the customary spring wage negotiations through a vote by the umbrella Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Korean Metalworkers Union.
If management makes concessions, labor must react and not simply ask for more. That is not a negotiation.
Keeping the body of the dead worker at the factory site for almost two months is no way for the union to spur more bargaining. Labor should negotiate in good faith to end the dispute, the dead should rest in peace and the government must be careful not to block a settlement in its efforts to quell illegal strikes.