Union leader threatensThe Korean Confederation of Trade Unions seems to have crossed the line. In a news briefing, Lee Suk-hang, the leader of the organization, said the union would stage a large-scale strike in the first half of next year, cutting gas and electricity and stopping air travel.
Lee said if the workers do not demonstrate their power, they cannot have dialogue and their opinions are not reflected.
Are they bluffing? Do they really want to paralzye the entire country in order to get their demands?
If it happens, Lee said it would be “a sweeping strike to change the world.”
We want to ask what kind of world he is dreaming of and if a country in chaos is the world they want to have.
When Lee was inaugurated as the workers’ leader, he said the workers would not stage a strike just for the sake of it and that they would do their best to win the approval of the people. Now he has abruptly changed his stance.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions has long used strikes as a weapon and staged political maneuvering. It has not worked as a labor movement. It worked to increase its political clout and chose extreme ways of protest. The union workers illegally took part in protests against a free trade agreement with the United States, damaging people’s trust in the confederation. They intervened in a dispute in E-Land and made the situation worse. They did not care about the inconvenience thrust upon people. As a result, the confederation is losing its footing. An official at the confederation said the labor movement is now facing a silent and skeptical public. Militant labor unions, such as those at Kolon and GS Caltex, withdrew from the confederation, and the public strongly opposes the confederation. Only 10 percent of all workers now belong to the confederation, so it is hard to say if the confederation represents the majority of workers.
The leader of the confederation complained that nobody responds to them. He needs to study what has created the current situation. Nobody responds to the union workers because they are stubborn. The confederation only has itself to blame. For the past two decades of democratization, the labor environment has changed a great deal. Union workers at big firms, such as the Hyundai Motor Company, are no longer considered a weak class in society. If the confederation does not sense this and remains stubborn, it will soon be isolated and might collapse before it “changes the world.”
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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