[EDITORIALS]Strikes don’t solve problems

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[EDITORIALS]Strikes don’t solve problems

The outlook of the Korean economy is getting darker. Even Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lee Hun-jai, who has been optimistic about the economy, is now voicing concern that the economy next year might be worse than this year.
Under the circumstances, labor unions are preparing for strife. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, one of the two largest umbrella unions here, has decided to conduct a massive rally tomorrow, and labor unions in the automobile industry plan to stage a partial strike this week. Walkouts by the Korean Federation of Private Service Workers’ Unions and the Korean Federation of Chemical Workers’ Unions are also expected.
Unions are insisting that they cannot help going on strike because of issues such as employment stability and wage maintenance, but they must think seriously whether this is the right time for such extreme measures, and what they might gain or lose from the walkout.
Management should also reflect on why they fail to reach an agreement each year, driving the unions to strike.
Also, the five demands of the unions have not been presented clearly. It is doubtful that many Koreans will understand that unions are striking to block the plan to dispatch troops to Iraq and to express support for a social welfare fund.
The demands to abolish discrimination against non-regular workers and to create measures to prop the industrial sector are problems that management, unions and the government should resolve together. These are not issues that can be solved with strikes.
The union of German-based Siemens AG recently decided to extend their working hours without raising wages in order to prevent companies from moving plants abroad. Toyota Motor’s union in Japan has agreed to freeze wages in order to strengthen the company’s competitiveness. As unions in other countries are seeking peaceful ways to strengthen their companies and secure jobs for workers, it is regrettable that we have to be troubled with complications in communication between management and labor.
If we keep going in this way, there is no future for the economy. It is time for both management and unions to snap back to their senses.
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