Reform in the labor unionsEvery inch of the labor community is rotten. Take, for example, the allegations that a Korean Confederation of Trade Unions leader attempted to rape a member of the organization. Elsewhere, four KTU members employed at the Kia Motors factory in Hwaseong were arrested by the South Chungcheong Provincial Police Agency on Thursday on charges of fraudulent gambling.
According to police, high-tech equipment was used in around 100 gaming sessions since June, with the perpetrators taking a whopping 2 billion won ($1.46 million) from their colleagues and other players. It is surprising to see the labor community with so little sense of morality. Not long ago, KTU members affiliated with the Hyundai Motor labor union were found to have been involved in a similar case.
But the KCTU is not alone. The Federation of the Korean Trade Unions was regarded as a little bit better in terms of its moral standards, but a series of corruption cases have been discovered within the organization as well. On March 13, prosecutors arrested a leading member of the cab drivers’ union on charges of taking a bribe from the former chief director of the cab company owners’ association. At Kookmin Bank, an internal investigation and audit revealed that the executives of its labor union spent 40 million won in union dues on their personal entertainment.
Employers are supposed to abide by the law but the same should hold true for labor unions. According to an investigation by the Ministry of Labor, eight out of 10 public agency unions have been running an illegal system that allows full-time workers to be paid.
The late Kwon Yong-mok, who served as a midwife of the KCTU, once lamented that the labor community was full of corruption. That statement has sadly been proven to be true.
It seems difficult to expect the labor community will reform itself on its own. Judging from what has been revealed so far, it is hard to guarantee that crimes are not being committed within unions nationwide. These kinds of corruption cases must be investigated thoroughly by the relevant authorities to help right the wrongs and prevent further corruption in the labor community.
The two umbrella unions must put an end to corruption within their ranks. If corrupt labor unions are going to demand workers’ rights while permitting wrongdoing, the people will feel only antipathy. Before they can begin to discuss labor issues, the unions must restore their morality. That is the most urgent task for the labor community right now.