[EDITORIALS]Where’s the backbone?The 80,000-member nationwide labor union of public servants, an unauthorized organization, began to vote yesterday on a strike. Despite repeated warnings that the vote is illegal, the public servants persisted in their group action. That is certainly a challenge to the government’s authority. Interest groups have been staging many group actions recently, and the nation is suffering. Amid such confusion, do public servants, despite their responsibility to defend law and order, really have to fuel the crisis?
The Roh Moo-hyun government has leaned toward permitting a labor union of public servants, and it recently presented a draft for a public officials’ union, granting the right to organize and partial rights to bargain collectively. The union, however, demanded all three principal labor rights, including the right to strike. Except for France, no country in the world grants the right to strike to public unions. Such a demand is an expression of collective selfishness to earn everything at once by force. A few days ago, President Roh said the nation’s functions would be in danger if everyone tried to use force. If the public servants continue to fuel Mr. Roh’s sense of emergency, what is this country coming to?
The government said it would strictly counter the union’s group action according to the law and punish the leaders. Those words, however, did not stop the voting. All public forces, including the police, should have been employed to stop it. But the government was reluctant to take such action, and critics are blaming the government’s pro-labor policy. The government said it would punish the ringleaders of the truckers’ strike and Hanchongryun’s May 18 demonstration, but then dropped those plans. The people are worried about these displays of timidity.
If the government’s plan for the public servants’ union is unsatisfactory, the plan should be modified step by step while implementing it. Many people are worried about a union that starts acting illegally even before its official launch. The government must learn a lesson: It will lose its ability to control other interest groups’ illegal actions if it fails to control the public servants this time.