Korea, unite

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Korea, unite

The Grand National Party proposed establishing a “pan-national people’s council” to iron out a grand compromise among labor unions, employers and the government. The Democratic Party followed by pressing for the establishment of a social organization that will work to cope with possible mass unemployment. Although the names may be different, it’s good that both the ruling and opposition parties have called for measures to overcome the current economic crisis by uniting the people.

We have experience in overcoming a national crisis by getting labor unions, employers and the government to work together. The Tripartite Commission of Labor, Management and the Government, established in February 1998 right after the financial crisis, came up with 90 measures with which to overcome the crisis, gaining trust from foreign investors.

The current crisis is as severe as 10 years ago. Although we have been relieved of a financial crisis thanks to global cooperation, a painful economic recession awaits us. Household insolvency is high compared to the 1990s, and given that we have more vulnerable temporary employees and small firms, the shock of further unemployment and shrinking incomes will be greater.

Given this situation, there is a lot for labor, management and the government to do through social consultation. It is imperative that they solve the mass unemployment that will come with the recession. The main point is to share the pain. To do so, they should come up with what each of the three parties should concede, and then put that into practice.

As we extinguish the fire, we should also get rid of persistent obstacles that impede economic growth. We must find measures to end destructive labor-firm relationships that block foreign investment and seek the people’s consensus on issues such as temporary workers and rich?poor polarization, which have high social consequences but that firms have difficulty in dealing with alone.

If the consultative body is to function properly, it needs the equal participation of people from all classes and sectors. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which left the tripartite commission and has instead focused on a hard-line labor movement, should take the opportunity to return to the fold. Employers and civic groups should show the wisdom necessary to overcome the crisis. Politicians should be at the heart of the effort, uniting society. They should not think of using the forum for politicking.

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