[EDITORIALS]Fiddling while Roh burnsThe government is not coming to grips with the truckers’ strike, and the situation is deteriorating, which brings into question the government’s ability to handle crisis situations. A week-long blockade of steel companies in Pohang by independent truck drivers ended last week, but blockades continue in other parts of the country. The movement of goods through the ports of Busan, at the southeastern tip of the country, and Gwangyang, in South Jeolla province, which handles the largest share of Korea’s trade, has been a third of normal volume. If the problem continues for another two or three days, exports will be hit hard and plants will stop operating. International traders will probably begin to turn to Japan and China.
President Roh Moo-hyun said during yesterday’s cabinet meeting that the authorities should spare nothing in dealing with threats to the country’s cargo transportation. But the administration says it is still hopeful for a settlement through dialogue, even though it is clear that the country’s international trade is about to suffer a serious blow. It is soft handling like this that encourages illegal strikers to look at the government and the authorities as a joke.
A good example is the concession to the Pohang chapter of the truckers’ trade association not to press criminal or civil charges against 11 people said responsible for the crippling blockade there. Violations of law and a better industrial policy are separate issues. The government has confused the two, and helped bring about the suspension of the blockade. While that appears good, it is a patch job that simply leaves the problem unresolved.
The government scurried to end the strike by any means because the president was extremely angry. What kind of example does that set? A compromise is not always a good thing; when a strike is clearly illegal, someone should be held responsible.
Correcting misguided practices should be based on the law. If police must be called in to break up illegal activities, they must be called in, and those responsible should be punished.