[EDITORIALS]Abhorrent union tacticsThe Hyundai Motor labor union is demanding an increase in basic wages of 9.1 percent. That is far higher than the 2.6-percent increase recommended by the Korea Employers’ Association.
The union demand is bold, plainly showing its militancy. With Hyundai management facing an investigation by Korea’s prosecutors, the union first said that Hyundai Motor’s chairman, Chung Mong-koo, and Kia’s president Chung Eui-sun “should appear at the prosecution and confess.”
Then it demanded the staggering pay raise. The labor union also said it took account of the company's ability to pay and other economic circumstances. The union seems to be skillfully taking advantage of the situation in its moves.
At the beginning of the year, the Hyundai Motor union did not seem to have a bright future. The company earns 76 percent of its revenue through exports, but its profits plunged as the value of the won soared. Senior managers have voluntarily agreed to a salary freeze. The company also asked its component suppliers to lower prices amid the hardship.
As soon as the prosecution launched its investigation into the Hyundai Motor management's alleged slush funds, the labor union quickly found an opportunity. The union is now pressing the company in an extremely difficult situation. The union often said the wage raise is proportional to the degree of its struggle, and its current move may be natural.
There is, however, common sense to consider. The people are worried about Hyundai Motor’s fate, but the labor union is trying to profit. The union in the past was involved in selling jobs to applicants, and we wonder if it is qualified to criticize management for ethical lapses.
Koreans envy the benefits that union workers at large companies get, but the Hyundai Motor labor union is now asking for a big raise. How many Koreans support that?
Toyota of Japan has prospered, and GM of the United States is failing. We want the union to keep some sense of courtesy. It is a childish tactic to press management when the company is in trouble.
Maybe the most serious crisis for Hyundai Motor is the attitude of its labor union rather than the prosecution's investigation. The militant labor union with no sense is nothing more than a murder weapon. Only a few years ago, we saw similar cases at Daewoo and Kia, two other automakers, which went bankrupt.