[EDITORIALS]No stopgap on strikeFour days into the railroad walkout by unionized workers of the state-run Korea Railroad Corp., the nation’s railway has still failed to repair its partially crippled operation. Citizens of the Seoul metropolitan area are being afflicted by overcrowded subways while commuting. The unionized workers who entered into the walkout have pretty much achieved their target as subway riders are suffering as much as expected. However, the workers should keep in mind that the citizens’ rage is directed against them, not at the government that failed to cope appropriately with the emergency nor the Korea Railroad.
It is hoped that the strike this time will spark debates for establishing improved labor-management relations. This time should serve as a crucial chance to root out repetitive and unnecessary illegal strikes. For this, the only countermeasure would be to follow the law and common sense. In this regard, it is natural that the president of the Korea Railroad said, “ I will stick to the position of trying to pursue bringing the unionized workers back to the workplace in advance, before entering into negotiations.” It is seen as proper that the railroad corporation relieved 2,244 workers of their duties, as they served as the major force behind the walkout.
Railroad workers, as laborers, have a legitimate right to go on strike. However, the collective action this time coincides with when the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions launched a full-fledged walkout, protesting against the passage of a non-regular workers bill by a National Assembly committee. It would not be too farfetched to say that the railroad workers are making a political move on behalf of the nation’s largest umbrella labor group. Of course, it is true that Korea Railroad workers were placed in a comparatively worse working environment and received lower wages than workers at the Seoul subway. However, their collective illegal action cannot be justified just because they have much to complain about.
As the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions decided to suspend its general strike and the police started arresting the unionized workers who led the strike, the momentum of the railroad walkout seems to be losing force. The railroad corporation should adhere to its principles even at this moment. It should not only be tied up by the efforts to make the unionized workers return to the workplace. Citizens also say, “If only the government and the corporation could successfully cure the strike syndrome, we could stand the imminent discomfort.”
A stopgap policy must not be adopted.