KCTU must step up reformsMany events, some massive and some tiny, were held yesterday to celebrate May Day.
Some people worried about the possibility of violent protests, as it was the one-year anniversary of candlelight vigils held to protest the government’s decision to resume importing U.S. beef.
But, fortunately, we got by without any major incidents, aside from a few small confrontations between labor groups, civic organizations and the police.
A change in attitude by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions - long defined by its instigation of militant rallies - was a main reason for that. Shortly before May Day, the new chairman of the organization abandoned plans for an all-out strike, saying that the labor field is becoming more rational. This means that even if other leaders of the umbrella union want to push ahead for a strike, they do not have the driving force to do so.
The KCTU, though, has not cared about what is going on in the larger world. So it is hard to believe the sincerity of his words. Still, it is good to hear his remarks in the midst of the economic crisis. Many people went outdoors to enjoy a long weekend for the first time this season despite the brutal economic slowdown, and they were able to enjoy the fresh air and warmth without fear of mass protests and demonstrations.
Since announcing its plans to forego a strike, the KCTU, which is going through a crisis both inside and out, must be reborn as a labor organization for workers in the truest sense of the words.
Ironically, the remark that the labor field is becoming rational shows that the KCTU has so far made countless irrational moves. At the center of such irrational acts are the leaders who abused their power. They drove labor unions to strike over political issues for their own benefit. They committed fraud, embezzlement and sexual assault. In the process, their morality, which is the key to a progressive organization, took a huge hit.
The only way for the KCTU to survive is to abandon such irrationality and immorality. To do so, it needs pragmatic thinking across the entire organization. It needs to boost morality to fight against corruption. Its use of protests that result in vandalism must be abandoned.
The KCTU recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the police promising to stage only peaceful rallies.
But signing a contract is not enough. If the leaders of the organization refrain from instigating violent protests, other trade unions under it will follow the suit.
The people will have their eyes on the KCTU, watching to see if it is making rational changes.