Strength in numbers

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Strength in numbers

An emergency committee composed of representatives from labor, management and civic groups, yesterday announced an accord seeking a broad conciliatory effort to jointly weather economic hardship. The labor side agreed to a pay freeze and cost-saving steps while employers promised to guarantee jobs. The government will promote various policies to reinforce the labor?management alliance. There will be hope at the end of the tunnel of global recession if workers and employers together endure and save up resources.

With the latest agreement, the ground for a far-reaching alliance to combat economic calamity has been laid.

What’s needed now is action. We are seeing more and more workplaces where employees work shorter hours and brave other disadvantages to prevent their coworkers losing their jobs. The tripartite agreement will likely bolster the industrial workplaces and serve as a driving force behind an economic rebound.

Collective efforts of labor, management and political leaders have succeeded before. In February 1998, following a rescue package from the International Monetary Fund, a tripartite committee pulled together a broad social restructuring program and supervised reform plans undertaken, helping to restore the country’s creditability.

The purpose of the latest coalition is the same as the last, since it is targeted at combating a crisis, but the means are different this time. In the wake of the IMF program, the social accord helped pave the way for companies to restructure and slim down by shedding unnecessary jobs.

This time it seeks to keep the employment situation stable through job-sharing agreements. The committee advises companies to maintain its human resources and be ready for a new global economic makeover after the present turbulence passes. The agreement has been joined this time not only by the usual labor, management and political representatives but also by civic and religious groups.

It’s a pity, though, that one of the major labor umbrella groups, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has failed to join the cooperative framework.

The committee should continue to cajole the group to join its campaign and the KCTU should not turn a deaf ear to the public consensus.
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