[EDITORIALS]Port union sets an exampleAlthough it came late, it is fortunate that the port and transportation workers union and management declared that they will make the port conflict-free and peaceful.
Labor, management and the government have recognized that maintaining stable labor relations at ports is essential in making Korea the logistics hub of Northeast Asia, and they decided to promote cooperation to strengthen Korea’s competitiveness and improve the quality of labor.
With issues such as the plight of non-permanent workers and shorter working hours, this year’s labor-management relations already appear a bit shaky.
Moody’s, the renowned credit rating company, estimated that last year’s labor disputes were responsible for more lost revenue in Korea’s exports than what was recorded during the Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung administrations. It also expressed concern over chronic labor disputes at Korea’s workshops.
Under such circumstances, an influential labor union volunteered to create a dispute-free workplace, which is highly valuable. The cargo share of Busan’s port has declined from third place in the world to fifth place, mainly because of losses caused by last year’s strike by cargo and transportation workers, extensive port facility damage caused by Typhoon Maemi, and the fast growth of Chinese ports such as Shanghai and Shenzen.
The heads of labor unions of Gwangyang and Mokpo ports visited Shanghai last month and launched a sales promotion, pledging that they will maintain peaceful relations with management. If other unions change their attitudes like this, Korea can shed its image of being a “strike paradise,” and appear more friendly to businesses.
Unions at large businesses must learn from the port and transportation union’s pledge. Many businesses have left Korea because of unstable labor relations and excessive demands to increase wages. As a result, the number of jobs have markedly decreased.
If they continue the same old practices, protecting union members’ interests, engaging in political struggles and intervening in management, both labor and management will perish. We hope the unions of big businesses pay attention.