[EDITORIALS]Labor, management must changeRecently, the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development said South Korea’s competitiveness ranked 59th among 60 surveyed countries in the area of labor-management relations. It means that labor-management relations, as well as education, in which the nation also ranked 59th, are sapping the country’s general competitiveness.
Relations between employers and employees are not likely to proceed smoothly this year either. There are a number of issues over which labor and business are in acute conflict. Trade unions are requesting that companies convert short-term workers, who have contracts of less than one year, into long-term workers; that companies create social welfare funds, and that companies allow unionized workers to participate in management.
It is a serious problem that labor and management persist in their own views and fail to find opportunities for compromise. Actually, they have no channel by which to talk respectfully and substantively to each other. Without the participation of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the Korea Tripartite Commission is little more than a name.
President Roh Moo-hyun met with representatives of employees and employers yesterday, saying, “Now both labor and management should change to encourage hope in the public.”
The government said it would provide a temporary channel through which the government, business and labor sectors can meet and talk, until the Tripartite Commission recovers its functions.
In our society, job creation is more important and urgently needed than the competition between labor and management. To create jobs, an environment where companies can invest without worry should be created. If labor is enthusiastic only about expanding its share of the pie, the size of the whole pie could shrink. Considering that, labor should demonstrate a more mature attitude. Companies also should recognize that they cannot develop without workers, and should regard them as their companions.
If current labor-management relations persist, the nation’s future will be dark. Both labor and management need the wisdom to yield.