[EDITORIALS]Korea’s ‘loose’ governmentConstruction workers who occupied the headquarters of Posco, one of the country’s leading companies, for nine days have now disbanded on their own. This strike resulted in a huge economic loss for Posco and the local economy. The country’s trust rating has been seriously damaged as well.
The reason cited for the strike abandonment was that the union workers became exhausted after Posco cut off electricity and water to the building. But residents in Pohang helped end the strike. The other day, 10,000 Pohang residents staged a demonstration aimed at reviving the local economy and demanded that the union workers leave the building. The union workers were reportedly placed under heavy psychological pressure from this. It is meaningful that ordinary citizens helped bring an end to an illegal and violent act by union workers. But this also shows that the situation was so serious that the citizens had to do something because the authorities were doing nothing, as if they too were on strike.
The police have been reacting passively to violent protests since the chief of the National Police Agency was fired at the end of last year over an incident where protesting farmers died after a clash. As for the strike at Posco, the police failed to gather sufficient information beforehand and made a mere pretense of force at the early stage of the strike.
The government issued an odd statement five days after the strike started that it would facilitate negotiations if the workers disbanded on their own. This is why some people call it the “loose government.” Because the government has not reacted strongly against illegal acts by union workers but allows them to hold negotiations and does not punish them sternly, selfish strikes and protests spread and become more violent.
When local people in commercial and industrial fields demanded that unionized workers of Hyundai Motor Co. end their strike, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions in Ulsan started a campaign, “Let’s not buy locally.” The confederation withdrew from most of its campaign in the face of opposition from residents. The citizens’ rage erupts because union workers do not care when the local economy is in a slump.
Citizens are not only tired of union workers’ illegal strikes but also very angry at the government because it does nothing about them. As the government fails to protect citizens’ rights, citizens come forward to protect their own rights. When will constitutionalism be realized so illegal acts are punished in accordance with the law and principles?