[EDITORIALS]Workers lose in labor strugglesThe Korean Confederation of Trade Unions seems poised to return to the tripartite talks between the government, management and labor. The Democratic Labor Party has its ears open to the voice of the businesses. Such are the turn of events following a breakdown of the confederation’s delegation meeting a day ago. We sincerely hope that it is not a one-time change by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Democratic Labor Party ― the two groups that have shaped militancy into Korea’s labor movement ― and hope that they stick permanently to the cooperative stance.
The confederation has said that it will decide whether to return to the tripartite talks on labor, either by adopting an electronic voting system at its standing executive committee or by directly asking the opinion of the delegates of the various industrial unions that fall under its purview. The confederation also said that it is considering having its leadership return to the tripartite talks first and later obtain consent from members.
The confederation is mulling these options because holding a regular delegation convention no longer seems feasible. It is regrettable to see the confederation seek expediency. But on the other hand, it can no longer go idle when its gatherings turn into a vicious cycle of violence. Just as the labor movement should not explode into violence, violence should not frustrate the legitimate labor movement. In that vein, the confederation’s plan to collect votes electronically should be viewed as a self-help measure.
It is time for the confederation to draw a line between its friends and foes. It should be firm in its stance against a few extremists that endorse violence. In the history of the world labor movement, labor’s arch enemy has always been the far-left extremists inside, not the capitalists. The confederation should listen carefully to advice from Lee Mok-hee, a policymaker in the governing Uri Party, who demanded the moderate, rational labor movement workers to part with a handful of extremists rather than collapsing with them. Needless to say, when the businesses struggle, the quality of life for workers suffers. More labor conflicts occur when the businesses face a harsh environment. Thus, the Democratic Labor Party should meet more often and hold constructive conversation with the business community if it wants to see the nation’s labor movement grow further and mature.
We applaud the decisiveness of the Democratic Labor Party, albeit late, in acknowledging that our society is staring reality right in the eye.