[EDITORIALS]A confederation of ‘haves’The public is upset about the bribes-for-jobs scandal involving Kia Motors’s labor union. The head of the union offered an apology, but it did not sound earnest. “We are not the only ones. Every large business is the same,” he said. “We ask you not to stir up the laborers [who are connected with the scandal] and give them disadvantages.” This statement, which the union leader made while resigning from his position, demonstrates the union’s chronic insolence.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, an umbrella labor union that includes the Kia union, is not free from blame. All it has done so far is establish a commission to investigate the case. The prosecution is now examining the fact that the umbrella union investigated an identical bribery allegation against the Kia union in 2002. It may be the case that the confederation knew about the bribery. If it did, and tried to cover it up, it is an unforgivable disgrace.
The factory laborers of large businesses who are under the auspices of the trade union confederation have been in enviable positions. In a recent opinion poll of university students soon to graduate, 76.3 percent said they wanted a factory job with a large company. High salaries, job security, little overtime and low stress were among the reasons cited. At a time when many office workers retire in their 40s or 50s, the laborers who belong to the confederation are now considered the “haves.” Indeed, one reason the present bribery case developed is that factory jobs with Kia Motors are desired by so many.
Before engaging in militancy, the confederation should reflect on itself. The reason the strikes by the civil servants’ union and the union at LG Caltex failed last year is simple: The public could not accept unions that ignored their duties and responsibilities and only demanded their interests.
We are disappointed that the confederation is remaining silent about the present case. It will be difficult for the confederation to attribute this bribery case to individual faults, or to dodge responsibility by maneuvering. We believe this case, which involved the sacrifice of laborers, reflects the worst kind of moral degradation.
Whether the trade confederation will become an obstacle to society’s advancement or be reborn as a true labor organization depends on itself. We ask the confederation to thoroughly reflect on what it has done, and to reform itself.