[EDITORIALS]Uphold law: punish strikers

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[EDITORIALS]Uphold law: punish strikers

The government is currently in the process of handing out heavy penalties to the 3,000 public servants of the Korea Government Employees’ Union who participated in a recent strike. Meanwhile, Uri Party chairman Lee Bu-young said putting a large number of public servants under arrest is not desirable and that the party backs his view. With the government and the ruling party having different positions regarding the handling of the public servants, the situation is very confusing.
Before and during the Korea Government Employees’ Union’s strike, the government repeatedly vowed to punish any public servant who went on strike, and Huh Sung-kwan, minister of government administration and home affairs, said he had no other choice but to fire any public servant who participated.
In addition, only a week ago, Prime Minister Lee Hai-chan said strong measures were needed to uphold public order. As a result, the central government and each provincial government are in the process of handling the punishment of the public servants who went on strike.
Chairman Lee argues that those who participated in the strike but voluntarily turned themselves over to the police should be dealt with leniently. In addition, he argued that punishment should be flexible for those who didn’t play an active role in the strike.
Lee Bu-young is asking the government to pay only lip service to their publicly announced threats. What is going to happen to the government’s credibility? We have to ask Lee Bu-young what the difference between his arguments and that of the Democratic Labor Party, which has opposed any harsh punishment for the public servants, is.
The strike was an illegal action; the law forbids any collective action by public servants. Heavy punishment is the correct way to deal with illegal strikers. If no strong measures are taken, it will make the government and the ruling party appear as if they condone breaking the law, and in this way, disrespect for the law could spread in our society.
We don’t like to believe that the current movement to lighten the punishment against these public servants is based on a consensus inside the Uri Party. The government should do as it has vowed earlier: proceed with the scheduled punishments and demonstrate the rule of law.
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