[EDITORIALS]Labor dialogue neededThere is something unusual in labor’s move recently ― two union leaders have committed suicide. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions has announced its plan to stage an all-out struggle from Nov. 9 and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions has said it will hold nationwide mammoth rallies. Under such circumstances, a laborer committed suicide by setting himself on fire, demanding the “abolition of discrimination against nonregular workers.” On the worker’s side, there must be a desperate reason that drove him to take his own life. But, however important labor’s struggle is, nobody can justify committing suicide for that reason.
The incident this time is a tragedy caused by the absence of a channel for dialogue between labor and management. Since early this year, due to the inconsiderate and unbalanced labor policy of the current administration, the conflict and rivalry between the two have dominated workplaces. In the case of the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co.’s union leader, it was the burden of a provisional seizure of properties and the possibility that the company would bring action for damages against the union, while the prospects for a wage settlement were low, that drove him to his death. It is worrisome that there are no signs of partnership, but rather of extreme confrontations between the two.
In reality, there are two sides to the issue. One is that illegal strikes must be checked, and the other is that the punishment should not violate the livelihood of laborers. The government provided advanced regulations that can guarantee laborers’ livelihood. But they have been pending in the Tripartite Commission of labor, management and government for two months. The government must revive the operation of the commission as soon as possible and solve pending issues.
The two umbrella unions should refrain from escalating the situation. If labor’s winter struggle is added to the ongoing political confusion, there is concern that the economy could plummet. When the economy is ruined, laborers cannot survive. Before taking to the street, labor and management must meet face-to-face and resume dialogue.