Zero tolerance for violenceIn a law-abiding society, violence cannot be allowed for any reason. The presence of security service companies which brazenly resort to violence to protect their clients defies logic. Security guards from Contactus, a private company, stormed into a factory of automotive parts supplier SJM in Ansan, Gyeonggi, and employed violence against the union members on strike.
Amid the ruckus, Ansan police failed to size up the situation quickly enough after arriving on the scene. The head of Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency apologized for the police’s slow reaction time and launched an internal investigation into the case, while the main opposition Democratic United Party vowed to push ahead with a parliamentary probe into the case.
These days, industrial companies habitually employ security services to protect their facilities and employees from unionized workers’ use of violence to have their demands met. The security service companies often use force to bring strikers under control as we saw in the case of Ssangyong Motor’s walkout in 2009. Those security firms were also involved in suppressing labor union members’ strong demands at many workplaces, including Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction. Private security firms’ main job is protecting the safety of their clients and their facilities. But some of them went so far as to equip themselves with professional riot-suppressing equipment like water cannons, not to mention clubs. Others openly take pride in aiming for a civilian military firm like Blackwater in the U.S., a powerful defense contractor that the U.S. government has clandestinely hired to operate in conflict zones across the world. In other words, a temporary pro-employer organization comprising mostly of gangsters and set up by companies transformed into a formal business specializing in violently quashing strikes by unionized workers.
The alarming new trend coincides with our overall trend bent on violent demonstration culture, let alone the age-old illegalities of industrial companies. Any violence which is exercised without governmental authority, however, is illegitimate. If private use of violence is allowed, our society will fall into extreme confusion and disorder. To avert such a catastrophe, the government must firmly restore its authority. The police also must get to the bottom of the unsavory incident in Ansan and show its authority by punishing all of those involved who used violence against striking workers.