[EDITORIALS]Militant, irrational labor

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[EDITORIALS]Militant, irrational labor

The strike at KorAm Bank does not look like it will end very soon. Worse still, the Korea Financial Industry Union says it will decide today whether to stage a joint strike with the participation of other banks’ unions. Following the joint strikes of automakers, the possibility of yet another joint strike by unions of financial companies grows high.
Frankly, the strike at KorAm is unjustifiable. The union is on strike because it opposes possible layoffs that the bank might impose after being absorbed by Citigroup later this year. The bank has already promised there won’t be any layoffs after the merger. The union is, however, insisting that all staff should be working in the same positions even after the merger. Moreover, the union is seeking to reverse the decision to delist KorAm’s shares from the stock exchange and demands that the union participate in running the bank. The union’s demands are starting to sound as if the union had bought the bank.
In a situation like this, it is hard to understand why the Korea Financial Industry Union tries to call joint strikes by other bank’s employees. The financial union may support the strike at KorAm, but organizing a joint strike is not justifiable. It is said that they use it as a tactic to pressurize the management for their wage negotiations later. If it is true, the joint action it organizes will be seen by the public as a typical selfish group action that neglects the national economy and staged in disregard of the possible loss in competitiveness in financial industries.
Lee Yong-deuk, the chairman of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and former head of the finance industry union, said two days ago, “Union members ought to work on smoothing out the earning differentials among the workers.” Mr, Lee urged that workers with high incomes should consider a wage freeze to narrow the gap in incomes.
But the finance industry union wants a 10.7 percent increase in wages in addition to equal salaries and fringe benefits for temporary workers. The unions are now getting ready to strike to accomplish their contradictory goals.
Mr. Lee should persuade the union to stop the unjustifiable job actions, and give advice to the finance union to judge the situation more wisely.
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