[EDITORIALS]Strong action against strikersThe police decided to arrest the leaders of the independent trailer truckers union, which is engaged in an illegal strike, and forcibly search the office of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, an umbrella labor union that supports the striking truckers. President Roh Moo-hyun said he cannot tolerate the union’s pursuit of its own interests while paralyzing the major functions of the nation, and asked for strong action against the union.
The confederation and the union claim that the biggest obstruction to settling the truckers’ labor issues is the government’s “obstinate and strong reaction” against the union. With the involvement of the confederation in this matter, the government and labor are strongly confronting each other.
We do not understand why the confederation is trying to protect the union’s illegal action. The legal status of many union members is not that of a laborer but a truck “owner.” Furthermore, the government is now trying to revise regulations so that truckers who own only one truck can be regarded as independent business owners, a measure the union has asked for. Currently, only truckers who own more than five trucks belong to the owner category.
It is right for the government not to intervene in negotiations between the union and cargo companies, and to oppose and punish union members who are engaged in the illegal strike. The situation is improving as some truckers are returning to work after cargo companies said they would cancel their contracts and file damage suits against the strikers.
The government should take resolute measures against the strikers so that it can set the precedent that any illegal act will be punished. If the government acts strictly according to the law and principles, the situation will get better quickly.
It will also get rid of the negative image of Korean labor in international society, and will help the government solve other social conflicts. The government previously solved the railroad workers’ labor issues by treading the right path. It should remember the lesson it learned from the railroad strike case.