[EDITORIALS]No more ‘republic of strikes’

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[EDITORIALS]No more ‘republic of strikes’

As the strike by the unionized subway workers continues, the inconvenience to riders is expanding. Waits for trains are getting longer and some trains have turned into ovens due to troubles with their air conditioners. But even in such situations, riders should be patient in order to overcome the subway workers’ pressure into acceptance of their demand to expand the work force and to raise wages excessively.
Through its behavior, the labor union of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corp. gives the impression that it had been determined to go on strike from the beginning. It gave notice very early that it would go on strike Wednesday and had never offered a compromise since that notice. And then directly before going on strike, the labor union proposed to downgrade their demand for work force expansion from 30 percent to 16 percent. The executives of the labor union ignored the agreement with management in January to jointly investigate measures to adjust the size of the work force in preparation for the introduction of the five-day workweek system. But they are now criticizing the government and the company for making no preparations.
On the Web site of a rail workers league that includes the subway union, criticism is flooding the bulletin board: “If the company offers me a job with only 70 percent of your wage, I will fly to the company to do the work.” “Stop stuffing yourselves, taking the poor working class people as hostage.”
The public knows that workers who are able to walk off jobs have higher wages and much better working conditions than those who are not able to strike. The public knows that if strong labor unions get greedier, the burden is transferred to workers in small and medium companies and workers on short-term contracts, who are not able to unionize.
If citizens endure inconveniences, the labor union will finally surrender. The government and management should remember how U.S. President Ronald Reagan controlled the illegal walkout of air traffic controllers in 1981, and how Great Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did the same thing with the miners’ illegal strike in 1984. The government and the company should have a firm attitude never to compromise with illegal strikers. They should make this an opportunity for the nation to shed the tag of a “republic of strikes.”
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