[EDITORIALS]Violence discredits unions

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[EDITORIALS]Violence discredits unions

It is a shame that the national convention of workers organized by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), which was held in downtown Seoul two days ago, turned violent. About 20,000 demonstrators clashed with the police, throwing rocks, using slingshots and paralyzing traffic for a long time. With the use of Molotov cocktails, the first time since May 1997 when Hanchongryun, or Federation of All-Korean University Students, held demonstrations, the scene was akin to a street battle. There can be no justification for the actions of the demonstrators, who looked and behaved like urban guerrillas.
This is why the KCTU’s demand to repeal certain government measures that discourage illegal strikes falls on deaf ears. The KCTU deserves to be ostracized. The group claims that it wanted to hold a peaceful demonstration and that police brutality led to the confrontation, which is absurd. The group prepared Molotov cocktails, face masks and iron pipes in advance, and they veered from the designated protest site, City Hall plaza, to march around the city. Clearly, these are all violations of the law. Ignoring the law and promoting violence and then asking the public to turn a blind eye is pure impudence.
It is worrisome that the KCTU plans an all-out strike on Wednesday and has even asked for cooperation from the railway and subway labor unions. This is not a time for the KCTU to shake up the industrial scene and make the public uneasy.
The government has provided a reform road map for labor-business relations according to international standards. If unions have problems with the plan, they should be mediated through negotiations and peaceful demonstrations. The unions should end anachronistic violent demonstrations immediately, before it’s too late.
The government must trace those behind the violence and punish them. The KCTU’s leadership cannot avoid responsibility, and the illegal participation of Hanchongryun and the teachers’ union should not go unnoticed. There should be absolutely no leniency for forces that endorse violence.
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