[EDITORIALS]Labor must focus outwardLabor is contemplating its wage struggles. Lee Yong-deuk, president of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions emphasized repeatedly, “High-wage laborers have to restrain their demand for wage increases so that the wage gap among laborers can decrease.” Also, similar opinions were presented in the newspaper of the Democratic Labor Party. We welcome such occasions, even though they are taking place rather belatedly.
Only 11.4 percent of workers in Korea belong to a labor union. Moreover, most unionized workers belong to large businesses or public corporations and so are paid well and face little possibility of a layoff. Some union members receive as much as 70 million won ($60,000) in annual salaries.
Such union members grab clubs, wear red headbands and stage illegal strikes while demanding higher wages. Because of the militant labor unions, Korea is becoming a country shunned by foreign investors.
Because of the greed of the “aristocrat labor union members,” who make up only a little more than 10 percent of all workers, the nation’s economy is damaged and other workers suffer as a result.
Businesses, if they are to accept the union members’ demand, have no choice but to hire fewer new employees or rely more on low-paid temporary or part-time workers. This is why the wage gap among workers is increasing.
Also, workers in small and medium businesses that serve large businesses are being forced to work under inferior labor conditions due to the union members at the large businesses who care only about their own interests.
The irrational labor movement of aristocrat labor union members should change now. Workers of large businesses should refrain from staging illegal and militant actions and demanding more than their fair share.
They have to think of the nation’s economy and how all workers can live together. Only when they do so, Korea will attract more investment. Then more factories will operate, wages will increase, the wage gap among workers will decrease, and the issue of temporary and part-time workers will be solved.
We hope that internal discussions in labor can accelerate and labor movements can change. The government and management, furthermore, will have to cooperate as well so that Korea’s labor relations can advance.