[EDITORIALS]The union death-grip

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[EDITORIALS]The union death-grip

The labor union at Hyundai Motor requested that the basic wage for workers be increased by 9.1 percent. That is far higher than the 2.6 percent increase recommended by the Korea Employers’ Association. This is a bold demand that plainly shows what the militant labor union is really about.
In regard to the prosecution’s summoning of the company’s top management, the union said Chung Mong-koo, the chairman, and Chung Eui-sun, the president, should obey the summons and confess their wrongdoings. It then followed that up the demand for the raise.
The union also said it took into account the company’s ability to pay workers as well as other economic circumstances. The union seemed to be a savvy player indeed.
Since the beginning of the year, the union’s future has not looked bright. The company earns 76 percent of its sales through exports, but its sales profits plunged due to the stronger won. In response, senior managers offered to freeze their salaries. The company also asked its components suppliers to lower their prices.
As soon as the prosecution launched the investigation into the alleged slush funds run by Hyundai Motor management, however, the labor union quickly found its opportunity. The union now has the company in a death-grip. Given that it has often said its demands for raises were made in proportion to how hard it would have to fight to get them, its stance is hardly a surprise.
But the union’s action goes against the norms of Korean society. Right now, the people are only worried about the fate of Hyundai Motor. Yet the union, a part of the company, is doing everything it can to grab a larger portion of gains. We are left speechless. Given that the union had been involved in selling positions to jobseekers, so we wonder if it is qualified to criticize the management for ethical problem.
Many people envy the benefits that union members at a large company enjoy. And yet Hyundai Motor labor union is now asking for more than a 9-percent raise. How many Koreans can support that?
There is no need to mention the Toyota’s success or GM’s failure. We want the union to show some decency. It is resorting to childish tactics to pressure a troubled company.
Maybe the most serious crisis for Hyundai Motor is the attitude of the labor union, rather than the prosecution’s probe. A militant labor union with no decency is as dangerous as a weapon. Both Daewoo and Kia, who failed in part due to union intransigence, know how dangerous those weapons can be.
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