[EDITORIALS]Professionally unemployedSome labor unionists have complained about funds used to pay fired union members. They raised an issue because some of the beneficiaries of these payments have collected significant salaries for over ten years after being fired for engaging in labor activities.
One labor union is known to pay 11 fired union members annual salaries of 140 million won ($144,500) each. Also, not a small number of fired labor union members get paid 20 percent more than others in annual salaries partly due to tax exemptions.
Giving payments from salvation funds to fired union members is a right of the labor union if there is a consensus among their members ― it’s hard to raise a legal issue here. Labor unions of conglomerates such as KT, Korean Air and Seoul Metro have it written in their union regulations that union members who are fired because of labor activities will be paid from these salvation funds.
But such customs only contribute to violence in the labor movement and result in producing professional unionists en masse. When the future is guaranteed, it’s hard to resist the temptation to engage in more violent protests that can draw social attention.
People can be supported by such salvation funds while waiting to get their jobs back. Nevertheless, to receive a high salary over 10 years without doing any work is a problem. The incident this time was divulged when a fired union member, who has received not only a hefty annual salary from his labor union, but also an extra income from an umbrella union, had differences with his labor union about its direction. Not long ago, there was the issue of a chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions receiving money on a monthly basis from his previous workplace.
The Korean labor movement’s image suffered last year due to the embezzlement of funds and other incidents. Nevertheless, there are no signs of change in the movement, which is far from the masses and only exists for a few. It’s only natural that the movement is being criticized when there are people being paid high salaries for ten years just because they were involved in labor movements in the past.
Any social movement that does not communicate with society cannot avoid becoming isolated and will deteriorate.
The labor movement needs to think sincerely about the way that it should represent the pains of the majority instead of being a movement conducted by a few professional activists.