[EDITORIALS]Once again, union corruptionWhen will we see an end to labor union corruption? From illegal employment arrangements to illegal loans, the examples seem to be endless. Even investigators are surprised to find that union corruption is so easy to identify. Some say that union leaders have turned unions into business tools that they use for personal gain.
Prosecutors yesterday arrested three leaders of a Hyundai Motor labor union who received as much as 30 million won ($30,000) from job seekers for promises of employment. The prosecutors are expanding their investigation to include past union leaders. The case seems almost identical to that at a Kia Motors union earlier this year. The Hyundai union described the case as the personal corruption of a single union leader, but two more were implicated less than a day later.
The global automotive market is very precarious; even General Motors and Ford in the United States are having difficulties. In this situation, union leaders at Hyundai and Kia apparently took illegal money.
Kwon O-man, secretary-general of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, is under investigation for receiving 500 million won in bribes from a businessman. The 4 billion won he allegedly loaned to construction companies while serving as head of the taxi drivers’ union is said to be unredeemable. If that money is not returned, then taxi drivers, who are already suffering from low pay and long hours, will be victimized even more. Mr. Kwon represented labor in the negotiations between the government, management and labor on the issue of irregular workers. We do not understand how someone who ignored the human rights of taxi drivers could have supported the human rights of irregular workers at those negotiations.
The saying that morality is a labor union’s greatest weapon is now meaningless. When some union leaders blindly pursue personal gain, who would listen to unions? The public now recognizes unions as hotbeds of corruption. Unions should become more transparent themselves before asking the same of management.
A labor movement centered on a few professional activists can easily become bureaucratic and aristocratic. To prevent this, outside auditing is necessary. A more urgent need is for labor to purify itself. Identifying corrupt leaders would be a start.