[EDITORIALS]Summer strike season?

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[EDITORIALS]Summer strike season?

Labor unions are on the verge of staging this year’s summer struggle by striking. The unions of the nation’s two airlines will take collective action early this week, and that will be followed by strikes of the metal workers’ and hospital employees’ unions.
Furthermore, both the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Conferation of Trade Unions are calling for a general strike. We wonder whether this is the right time for the unions to stage strikes, when people are suffering through a prolonged economic slump already.
The unions of Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, which have decided to stage a strike after polling their members, warned that they would conduct a work slowdown or a limited “warning” strike. A lawful labor struggle will prove an enormous burden to the operation of the airports and, it is feared, may threaten the safety of passengers.
While the disputed points of the two airlines are different, both claim that their union’s demand infringes on their management rights. First of all, the unions’ decision to stage strikes, at a time when flights are frequently cancelled due to heavy rain while there is a holiday season rush, is for the unions’ collective egoism.
The hospital employees’ union, which confronted management for four months, has also decided to go on strike on Friday. Although there are a few days left in the mediation period, it will become an annual event if the union goes ahead with a strike. We question whether the union is mindful of the suffering of the patients.
The two umbrella unions, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, are demanding the removal of the labor minister and the senior presidential secretary for social policy on the basis that the government lacked sincerity in dealing with the death of the federation’s Chungju chapter leader, failed to pass the bill on irregular workers and decided the minimum wage ceiling unilaterally.
We wonder whether these are issues that can be resolved by a general strike. Rather, they are subjects for a political struggle. Since the beginning of the year, the position of labor was undermined by the discovery of successive irregularities involving its leadership. It deserves to be suspected of staging a hard-line struggle to recover its weak position. We urge that the government and the labor community start a dialogue first, transcending confrontations.
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