[EDITORIALS]Still time left for pilots

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[EDITORIALS]Still time left for pilots

The strike by Asiana Airlines’ pilots has gone as far as it can go. Labor and the management staged a long negotiation session that stretched past the government-set deadline of midnight Sunday, but they failed to reach an agreement. Now the ball is in the government’s court, and the government has warned that it might intervene.
Yesterday, at a meeting on pending labor issues, the government decided to exercise its right to intervene unless the pilots end their job action. Preparations for an intervention have begun.
If the government issues its emergency mediation order, all kinds of labor activity by the pilots’ union will be banned. The possibility of a negotiated resolution will be gone. The union will have no option but to accept the edict of the Central Labor Committee, which will judge the arguments of both sides.
The government has made it clear that the labor committee’s edict will not include any of the union’s demands having to do with personnel decisions or other management rights.
If things continue in this way, there is the possibility that even those union demands that management seemed inclined to accept could be excluded by the labor committee.
We wonder whether this is what the union was hoping to gain by staging a strike of more than 20 days, inconveniencing passengers and failing to deliver air cargo.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, the strike’s damage to Asiana Airlines and related businesses amounts to 300 billion won ($295 million) to date, and the loss of exports is expected to reach $700 million.
Both the union and Asiana management have caused a great deal of damage during this episode by failing to negotiate productively. They invited government intervention only after losing as much money as they could, and spoiling Asiana’s image as much as possible.
Moreover, this strike has only increased the calls for re-designating the aviation industry an essential public service, giving the government more power to intervene. The labor union has gone against its own interests by inviting the very government intervention that the government itself had decided to forswear.
There is still time left before the governement issues its emergency mediation order. Asiana’s labor and management must, however belatedly, sit down and work out an agreement to avoid setting a precedent by inviting government intervention.
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