[EDITORIALS]Deal firmly with patienceThe Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions have joined striking railway workers, causing nationwide transportation confusion. Foreign nations are expressing fears that hard-line union action will drag the nation's economy into a bottomless pit.
Few railway workers are returning to their work places, despite the government’s order that all do so. Traffic in Seoul could turn worse, as construction to restore the Cheonggye Stream starts today in the city’s downtown. The government, driven by despair, might seek an excuse to compromise with the illegal strikers. But it, for once, should deal firmly with these lawbreakers.
The slogan of the striking railway workers: “Let’s stop the railroad and change the world,” is appalling. The slogan is intended to express the union’s desperation, but it also reveals that the workers do not care if they ruin the daily lives of the people and the nation's economy by paralyzing transportation. The strike cannot be justified as the goal and proceedings of the strike violate the laws.
The patience of our citizens is the greatest power for changing unreasonable union behavior. The inconveniences in moving to and from work places caused by the strike should be understood as the price for establishing social order in dealing firmly with illegal strikes. The government might be pressed to compromise with the striking railroad workers if citizens refuse to back it by waiting. The wisdom of the people will give strength to the government in dealing with the strike, thus providing an opportunity to put labor on the right track.
Businesses should endure the inconvenience of material shortages. If not, they will forever be victimized by illegal strikes.
The government is vowing to deal firmly with the illegal strike. It has ordered workers to return to work and is exercising its power in dissipating the rallies. But the people and businesses here and abroad are skeptical. The government should use all measures to minimize damage and inconvenience, and make it a principle to deal with the strike. Its credibility is at stake.
President Roh Moo-hyun spoke correctly, if late, when saying that for their own well-being, workers should curtail action that hurts the economy and that the nation has priority. Korea's labor competitiveness is ranked at the lowest level among 30 nations with a population of 20 million or more. We have no hope if we continue to fail to address illegal labor activity properly. The determination to deal firmly and patiently with the illegal railroad strike is the only way to overcome this adversity.