[EDITORIALS]Don’t repeat Asiana fiascoFlights were cancelled en masse as unionized pilots of Korean Air started a full strike yesterday. Such aerial chaos took place only four months after the pilots of Asiana went on a 25-day strike this summer. The discomfort of travelers is high, especially in light of the increasing demand for flights at the end of the year. High-value technology devices rely on air transportation and our economy will experience great losses due to locked export routes.
The core issue of this strike is wages. The union is demanding an 8 percent increase overall while the management is adhering to a 3 percent increase.
Korean Air pilots receive an average of 120 million won ($116,000) per year in the case of a plane captain and 88 million won in the case of a co-pilot. The various benefits they receive are also at an “aristocratic” level. There is no chance the common people will remain uncritical of people who are receiving such high wages going on strike because of disputes regarding raises.
Regular workers whose wages do not even meet half that of the pilots ended up with a 2.2 percent wage increase after entrusting the matter to management. But the fact that highly-paid professions are demanding higher raises is not only unjustifiable but also does not satisfy equilibrium. In addition, pilots are demanding that if they are unable to work for more than 30 hours because of personal reasons, they should be guaranteed flight bonuses of up to 75 hours. How can this be persuasive?
This strike, which is timed at the peak year-end season, takes the people hostage and therefore deserves to be criticized for its selfishness.
The character of airline strikes is that it is impossible to employ temporary workforces. The flight operation rate on the first day was 47 percent, but in the future, capacity will fall below 30 percent. This will cause losses of 25 billion won on a daily basis.
This is far greater than the losses that occurred in summer during Asiana’s strike of 6.6 billion won a day. Exports will also fall by 50 billion won on a daily basis, which will cause our credibility overseas to crash.
The government is considering issuing an emergency order to halt the strike. We must not repeat the failure of the Asiana strike, in which the belated emergency order caused loss of profits and justification for the strike. An emergency order should be used in emergency circumstances, as its literal meaning implies. The government should not blow its chances like it did during Asiana’s strike.