[EDITORIALS]No union for the unemployed

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[EDITORIALS]No union for the unemployed

The Seoul Women’s Trade Union had filed a case with the court against the Seoul Metropolitan Government after the city rejected the labor union’s registration. The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that unemployed persons should be allowed to join regional labor unions.
This violates the fundamental spirit of establishing a labor union. A union must have a negotiating partner ― an employer. But the court said unemployed people can join a union. Now, we face a fundamental question. Whom will the unemployed persons negotiate with?
On what basis will those who have never had a job join a trade union? How can they carry out negotiations with no partner? If these people join a union and form a force, serious political struggles can arise every day instead of achieving a union’s basic aim of improving working conditions and welfare.
Furthermore, what will such a union for unemployed persons do to resolve unemployment? Companies will likely avoid those applicants affiliated with unions.
It is understandable that a person who once had a job will join a particular industry’s union temporarily with limited access in order to resolve problems triggered by unemployment. And yet, the ruling said that jobless people who have never had a job can join a union. That can harm the intrinsic attribute of a union and the stability of labor-management relations. Even in France, where labor unions exercise significant power, only those with more than one year of work experience can join a union. In the United States, unemployed persons who are linked with labor disputes or disputes over illegal labor are allowed to join a union.
At the Korea Tripartite Commission in 1998, the government, employers and labor unions agreed that unemployed persons with work experience can join unions other than those that are company-based. That is also included in the government’s roadmap to improve labor-management relations announced last year. We believe that is a practical and reasonable limit.
The government must sort out this issue wisely. There will be serious negative effects unless the qualifications for unemployed labor union members are restricted.
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