[EDITORIALS]Respect laws, principlesKim Jin-pyo, deputy prime minister and minister of finance and the economy, joined labor talks with Chohung Bank’s striking workers. His participation clearly contradicts the Roh administration’s stance on emphasizing laws and principles. It is definitely illegal for employees of a bank, which received 2.7 trillion won ($2.25 billion) in bailout funds, to strike in protest of the government’s plan to sell the bank’s stakes, threatening customers, the bank’s operation and the nation’s financial system. The government repeatedly has said it will counter illegal actions sternly. But the deputy prime minister’s negotiations with the labor union established a bad precedent that the government intervened in a labor-management dispute; at the same time, the government mistakenly recognized the illegal strike as a legitimate action.
The negotiating sides in the Chohung Bank case are unclear. The bank’s management cannot take the lead in selling the bank nor can the Shinhan Financial Group. The labor union requested Mr. Kim to join the talks, and we admit there is a need for the deputy prime minister’s efforts to resolve a serious situation. Yet it was never a wise decision that the deputy prime minister sat through all-night negotiations discussing substantial management issues, such as the strike and job security. Even with Mr. Kim’s presentation, the negotiations still failed. Does that mean that the president will now join in?
As we have seen in the case of Doosan Heavy Industries, principles in labor-management relations are largely shaken because of political concerns and the government’s intervention based on a pro-labor policy. Labor unions are increasingly intervening in management’s rights issues such as joint investments; public companies’ unions are also increasingly striking in protest of privatization. Intolerable illegal actions against the market economy are rampant, and foreign investors are turning away from our economy. Laws and principles must be respected. We urge the government to apply the law and principles fairly and strictly to labor-management relations.