Cozy labor relations

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Cozy labor relations

The Board of Audit and Inspection’s report on public corporations and governmental institutions, released Tuesday, was shocking.

Although employee salaries can only be increased by a maximum of two levels a year, one company was reported to have increased the salaries of its labor union leaders by between five and eight levels. And, following pressure from the union, special payments were made to union leaders, who received up to 3 million won ($2,364) each in special payments.

Another institution gave its labor union leader personnel affairs and performance review rights, which are normally given to union officials. The union head went against performance review principles and gave all of the union’s chapter heads perfect scores.

It was heaven for unionists, but there was more to come.

At one of the institutions, an employee was given up to 171 days off including his annual holiday. In some public service corporations, work hours were less than the statutory labor law required and employees had received large overtime payments. At another company, its labor union demanded money, saying that the company’s image had improved as a result of its presence. Then, the company increased the salaries of all of its employees, spending an additional 1.1 billion won a year.

It’s hard to imagine scenarios like these taking place at private businesses.

The unethical acts cited in the report have all taken place during the Lee Myung-bak administration. It proves that his slogans of “advancement in the public service sector” and “reform of state-managed companies” are nothing more than empty words.

The audit board said there were too many incidents to be cited specifically in the report, so it had created a list and issued warnings first.

We are at a loss for words.

The illicit and cozy relationship between government enterprise and its labor union is no longer a secret. It has long been known that labor union leaders are actually the emperors of public companies. And yet, the audit board did nothing more than distribute the list and order the public and governmental companies to fix the problems on their own. With punishments in name only, these perennial practices will never be corrected.

It is time for a bold measure.

It’s not only the heads of the public companies but also their labor unions that should be held accountable with stern punishments. In addition to criminal punishments, illicit payments must be returned. That is the least they can do for the taxpayers, who are the public companies’ real owners.

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