[EDITORIALS]A standoff at Asiana

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[EDITORIALS]A standoff at Asiana

The strike staged by Asiana Airlines pilots has gone on for 10 days now. The union members went to Mount Songni to settle in for prolonged industrial action, but management, having appealed to them to return to work, is watching with folded arms now.
Despite having been criticized as an “aristocratic union” because of their high wages, the union only pays attention to maintaining solidarity among themselves. Relying on the union’s unpopularity with the public, management seems determined not to yield to the union’s demands. As both sides fail to set a timetable for bargaining, the dispute seems sure to be prolonged.
Asiana announced that losses caused by the dispute have amounted to 30.5 billion won ($29.7 million). Not just cargo and domestic flights, but also international flights have now begun to be affected by the strike. There is difficulty in exporting cargo such as semiconductors and mobile phones, and passengers are suffering major inconvenience.
The pilots’ union is a relatively new one, having been born in November. In making absurd demands in its first labor dispute, it has found itself in a prolonged strike. It is hard to expect flexibility in negotiations or swift reaction to changing situations. But the present situation doesn’t allow for this unconditional stubbornness. To win the strike, it needs more participants and other unions to join it. But that is not happening. Even the union itself has gone to a mountain.
Emergency govenment intervention, as management demands, would not be appropriate for now. That extreme measure has been taken only twice: during strikes at Korea Shipbuilding Corporation in 1969 and at Hyundai Motors in 1993. Asiana itself must try to reach a deal with the union. Designating a business as vital to the public interest shouldn’t be done carelessly.
An autonomous deal between management and labor is the only solution. The longer the strike is prolonged, the higher the chances for both labor and management to lose. If customers shun Asiana, its fate is manifest ― there will be no room for it to stand, and both the union and the management will perish. Both sides must pay attention to the inconvenience endured by their customers, and to the critical eyes of the people. Staging an unreasonable strike is tantamount to inflicting harm on oneself.

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