[EDITORIALS]Labor back in the foldThe Korean Confederation of Trade Unions has returned to the negotiating table. A year and two months have passed since the labor umbrella group broke off from the Korea Tripartite Commission in April 2005 to protest a bill on the treatment of irregular workers. The agreement to return is welcome news.
The group cited several reasons for returning, and they are good ones. The commission has to tackle questions involving terms of employment for workers and advancing labor-management relations.
It is fortunate that the confederation has finally realized that it is difficult to solve problems with hardcore campaigns. As they return, the confederation should keep in mind that if the interests of parties at the negotiating table clash too violently, all sides ― labor, management and the government ― must be willing to scale back their demands and reach compromises.
Kim Keum-soo, when he recently retired as head of the Tripartite Commission, told reporters that groups within the labor community try to break off or walk out from talks to try to give themselves a negotiating advantage.
Mr. Kim criticized the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions’ hardcore activism and stubbornness by stressing that nothing can be gained when a person or group tenaciously tries to win everything.
He added that the members of union groups could not define their strategic goals when asked.
“They could not present a proposal since they have no policy functions,” Mr. Kim said. He knows what he is talking about when he discusses the labor movement; he once led the confederation. The umbrella group should ponder his remarks.
The confederation should not use its return to the talks in order to stage more hard-core activist disruption if they again fail to get everything they want. The work of the Tripartite Commission should not be used politically by hard-liners either as they prepare for union leader elections late this year.
The union movement should remember that working in the commission is the way to help its members.