An unappealing unionThe labor unions for civil servants have finally chosen to join the umbrella Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. The three bodies - the Korean Government Employees’ Union, the Korean Democracy Government Employees’ Union and the Court Government Employees’ Union - voted late Tuesday to merge into a single entity and for a membership with the KCTU.
We previously said these unions’ joining of the KCTU was a move against the times and was a dangerous proposition. Entering an organization that is hanging on by a thread due to political struggles and corruption is a self-destructive move and could place the civil servants’ political neutrality, as stipulated in the constitution, into question.
The people have spoken, too. In a Gallup Korea survey released on Sept. 16, 66.6 percent of the polled said they opposed civil servants joining the KCTU.
That the three unions pushed ahead to become the latest to join the KCTU can only mean that they sold the sacred spirit of public service for collective selfishness. We can see, through their thinly veiled cover, that the civil servants’ unions wanted to rely on the militant KCTU to realize their goals in issues like wage hikes and their opposition to pension reforms and to restructuring. The image of the public workers going on political strikes under the pro-North Korea, anti-America KCTU is enough to make us shudder. And it is precious tax money that people have shelled out to support public service that would instead be used for such strikes. That would be pathetic.
If the move is already a done deal, then there’s only one way we can prevent further problems - strict enforcement of laws and principles. Considering that these are civil servants, we should apply a tougher standard on their illegal behavior than on unions from private firms. And since collective action by public servants is illegal, all group action, including political strikes, must be prevented at all costs.
The civil servants’ unions must realize the power of the people. They are paid by the people for the public work they do. And if they get swept away by their umbrella body and act in ways that violate the interest and welfare of the people, they will never be forgiven. They should learn their lesson from the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union, which joined the KCTU with good intentions about a decade ago but which has since come under fire from the public.