[EDITORIALS]Violence is not an answerThe Korean Confederation of Trade Unions is scheduled to hold rallies in more than 20 cities around the country, including Seoul. More than 100,000 demonstrators have been called out. There must not be a repeat of Sunday’s violent demonstration, where Molotov cocktails and slingshots with bolts and nuts were used by protesters. The results of the rally included more than 100 police officers and protesters injured. Even more worrisome is that foreign investors, who are already fed up with militant labor unions of Korea, will show even greater caution over investing in Korea.
Most of the public has trouble understanding the direction taken by confederation leaders. They knew, but chose to ignore, that some protesters came set on using the firebombs and slingshots. Now they are trying to put the blame on the police, saying it was the excessive use of force by the officers that drove the situation to violence. It is the tolerance of violence and despicable excuses that are turning off the public, no matter what the demonstration may have been for.
The labor leaders say another rally is needed because the government has failed to put together a remedy against management seizure of the assets of illegal strikers and damage suits against workers. But the government already has announced a policy that will exclude workers’ basic wages from seizure and guarantee a union’s basic rights. A joint government, labor and management commission will be deliberating on the plan, which could be put into effect early next year. With such measures to be introduced, there simply is no justification for the labor federation’s actions that badger the government to provide immediate answers.
The government, at the same time, must show it will not tolerate labor violence.
We live in a democracy where the right to express an opinion peacefully is sacred. Anyone who tries to justify violence in the guise of freedom is simply out to destroy the principles of democracy. And the government cannot compromise with such elements. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions is warned to foreswear violence.