[EDITORIALS]Trade unions’ suicidal drama

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[EDITORIALS]Trade unions’ suicidal drama

Tuesday’s extraordinary meeting of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions’ representatives, to decide whether the confederation would return to the Tripartite Commission, was foiled because it was tainted with violence. In a word, it was chaos ― a scene of insulting words, violence and forced occupation of the podium. Paint thinner and fire extinguisher foam were sprayed on the platform. Even observers came down from the balcony to disrupt the balloting by force. Watching members celebrate with a song of victory, one Uri Party lawmaker said, “I feel like I’m watching old black-and-white footage of a violence-ridden party convention in the 1970s.”
Labor’s crises always originate within labor itself; this rule has held true even in more advanced countries. The trade confederation’s corrupt, aristocratic aspect has been exposed in the Kia Motors money-for-jobs scandal. Tuesday’s meeting left another indelible stain on the confederation’s name as democratic procedure was crushed. Hardliners insist that a democratic result is more important than democratic procedure. One cannot expect free discussion or free voting in such an atmosphere. One would be hard-pressed to expect even the democratic gesture of accepting the result of a vote.
Complex factors seem to be involved in the unfolding of the confederation’s suicidal drama. When its core figures moved to the National Assembly as members of the Democratic Labor Party, the confederation lost an internal buffer. Thus, distrust between hardliners and moderates developed to the point of violent confrontation. Fratricidal conflicts are all the more bloody and desperate.
This internal strife has brought the confederation to the brink of collapse. The wound can’t be healed by the resignation of its chairman. The public have given immoral, egoistic, militant labor unions the cold shoulder. The people watch coolly as the confederation isolates itself, tainting its own image with its division. Any movement that shuns the people and makes struggle its ultimate goal is prone to cutting its own throat.
The burden of the confederation’s failure will be borne by the people. Under these circumstances, the economic revival the people anticipated will not be possible. Due to the tyranny of one group, the whole nation trembles in fear. Instead of raising its voice to others, the confederation must reflect on itself first.
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