Irresponsible unions

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Irresponsible unions

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions is completely ignoring the economic crisis and acting improperly.

The public is calling for cooperation in the face of the worst ever economic recession but instead the confederation announced a resolution on Jan. 21 for all-out confrontation against the government, stating that it is unhappy with government policies, including its dealing with non-regular work issues.

Jan. 21 was the same day the Korea Employers Federation and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions pledged to collaborate on mutual survival to overcome the economic crisis.

An emergency committee spanning labor unions, employers and the private and public sectors was launched yesterday to discuss unemployment issues, but the confederation went ahead and announced a full strike in June, making unrealistic demands including the stoppage of public sector works.

The financial crisis is spilling over to the real economy faster than expected. January exports fell 32 percent compared to a year ago and the number of entrepreneurs, an economic indicator for the have-nots, is plunging.

As exports and domestic consumption collapse, it is lamentable that the confederation is trying to ruin the grand cooperation between this cross-section of the workforce.

The confederation should face reality. The days of making gains through unrealistic demands are over.

A series of media surveys indicate that most of the public wants peaceful labor relations, aware that employers and employees are making sacrifices to overcome the economic crisis in many workplaces.

According to the Ministry of Labor, the number of labor disputes last month was zero for the first time in 14 years.

The confederation should understand the significance of this zero figure against its threats of industrial action before it commits itself to what looks like self-destruction.

What the confederation should be doing instead is working to prevent its members from getting fired during the ongoing economic difficulties. It should talk to the business community and take part in the emergency committee set up yesterday, and discuss how to share the colossal responsibility of withstanding the economic meltdown.

One solution to surging unemployment is for the confederation and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions to jointly devise guidelines to maintain jobs. This is crucial to overcoming the economic crisis.
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