[EDITORIALS]Encouraging sign from laborA man with a tendency toward moderate reform, who emphasizes conversation and compromise, has been elected the new chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. The umbrella labor union should take this as an opportunity to consider the public’s yearning for mature labor-management relations with the national interest in mind.
Lee Su-ho, the newly elected chairman, reportedly said about his predecessor’s hard-line tactics, “They fought well, but they failed to get anything for the laborers.” This suggests the new leadership will be more practical. The union’s aggression has brought much tension and loss. Just last year, there was a ceaseless series of large-scale struggles, including the Doosan strike and the strikes by the independent truckers and the railroad workers. Chronic striking can win temporary concessions, but it devastates the business environment. Employers tired of dealing with unions that “strike till they die” are moving overseas, and investment by foreign businesses is declining. Naturally, the number of jobs has therefore shrunk. No one benefits from shaking the foundations of this country so irresponsibly.
Mr. Lee announced that the confederation will return to the tripartite commission it boycotted for five years. To create more jobs, Korea’s biggest task right now, labor, management and government should join hands. With the confederation’s return to the commission, the implementation of the five-day workweek and the renovating of labor-management relations should see progress.
In response to this change of attitude, the government and employers must move to create conditions in which the union’s new leadership can work. For example, if the labor unions announce even a temporary rest from striking, and restrain their demands for a wage hike, the firms must increase hiring as much as possible and do their best to protect workers’ interests. The government should be generous with tax reforms to stabilize workers’ households. That is how the right conditions for new jobs, and a social consensus on the permanent stabilization of labor-management relations, can be achieved. We ask labor, management and government to make concessions and to cooperate, for the national interest and the prosperity of all.