[EDITORIALS]Public servants should serve

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[EDITORIALS]Public servants should serve

The government officials’ union said they will hold a meeting of representatives today and will hold a vote on whether to go on general strike soon.
The union is not a legal labor union that is protected by law, but an entity outside of the law. So all activities that are related to the general strike planned for Nov. 15 are clearly illegal. The law forbids public sector workers from engaging in any collective actions.
The reason for the union’s strike is that it wants the right to collective action. According to the special bill on the government officials’ union submitted by the government to the National Assembly, the union should be allowed the right to organize and have limited rights to collective negotiations.
There is a problem in viewing government officials as laborers hired by the government. The term “public servant” means that government officials are not employees but a type of service worker. The damage that results from strikes is mainly afflicted on the public, not on the government or the officials. Such collective action must not be permitted.
The collective action that the union, which was organized two years ago, is undertaking also poses serious problems. More than 80 local government workers don’t work during the lunch shift. Since Nov. 1, they have been protesting the abolishment of the policy of working one hour less during winter. Because they refuse to work lunch shifts, the public has been inconvenienced. It is very vexing for the people, who pay the government officials’ wages through taxes, to see that government organizations exist only for their own benefit, not for the public’s.
The union has become so arrogant as to threaten a general strike, and some local governments are to blame for this. There are 102 local government bodies that tacitly permitted the illegal collective agreements.
The Roh government’s lukewarm response to the various unlawful activities of the public officials’ union in the previous general election, such as its support for a certain political party, has now led to a potential strike. The government must not be pushed around. Look at the Korea Teachers’ and Educational Workers’ Union, which claims to be the voice of true education, yet is yielding enormous power in the education sector. Is this country’s government organization going to be bossed around by the union? The government must maintain discipline.
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