[EDITORIALS]A labor turning point?Striking LG-Caltex employees have decided to return to work. The illegal strike, which went on for about 20 days, seems to be over without experiencing mass layoffs or police involvement.
LG-Caltex management said it will hold the leaders of the strike accountable even though they called off the strike. We believe this measure should be maintained. Management in Korea used to yield to the illegal demands of strikers just because it wanted to end a strike quickly. Also, it has been customary for management to nullify its avowed measure to punish or fire leading strikers once the walkout ended. We believe this kind of unprincipled stance of management spoiled labor relations in Korea.
The legitimate demands of strikers may be accepted but any illegal demands should be strictly countered.
With the LG-Caltex case, the reality of the high treatment afforded to some “aristocratic” unions was revealed. Union members of LG-Caltex receive one of the highest levels of wages among all industries in Korea, full educational support for their children, and company housing equipped with free golf practice courses.
The public may well be upset about the illegal strike of LG-Caltex union members, who asked for even larger benefits. The union of Korean Air’s pilots and unions at other big businesses also receive unimaginably high wages, for most workers, and benefits as well. Indeed, some union members are no longer weak members of society, and their demands are considered to be an expression of egoism.
As labor unions at some large companies engaged in strikes out of greed, which is misrepresented as the true reality of Korean labor, foreigners now shun investments in Korea. Also, this is why the nation’s economic recovery is slow, jobs are reduced and many laborers work under inferior conditions.
Such wrong practices should be redressed. Many businessmen and workers are carefully observing how the current issue is resolved. If management and the government act weak again, we will have no bright future. Management and government should show their will to punish any labor illegalities.
The LG-Caltex case should serve as a turning point in which Korea’s labor relations are normalized; and law, public power, principles and order are recovered. That’s what the public wants.