Time to close the revolving doorThe all-too-familiar scene of unionized employees blocking a new head of a financial company from reporting to work to protest revolving-door appointments is being played out in the current administration. Although Lim Young-rok served as the president of KB Financial Group for three years, the union opposes his promotion to the chairman’s post because of his background as a former vice finance minister.
The argument is understandable, since other bureaucrats have landed top financial seats. Yim Jong-yong, former head of the prime minister’s office, this week begins his term as new chairman of Nonghyup Financial Group. Still, the ritual of unions blocking new chairmen’s entry to headquarters is becoming an eyesore. Their protest raises suspicions that they are out to strike some kind of bargain with the new management.
Overreaching union power is as dangerous as government power. About 65 percent of employees in public companies are union members - six times more than the private sector’s 10.6 percent. Public-sector union members enjoy benefits and work conditions sharply better than their counterparts in the private sector. Public corporations often have to confer with their labor unions on appointment guidelines and regulations.
Unions of state enterprises and financial corporations have become alarmingly bold and shrewd in their dealings with management. Apart from walkouts and barricading to prevent new CEOs from entering their buildings, they go so far as to leak their corporate weaknesses to politicians to capitalize on the legislative power and demand what they want during legislative questioning sessions. In the private sector, they would immediately be dismissed for damaging corporate interests.
The Park Geun-hye administration is busy replacing and rearranging management of the public sector. If the government seriously wants to reform the financial and public sectors, it should end its revolving-door appointments. It must not name people who served on the election campaign or are close to the president.
Instead, it should appoint people who cannot be questioned for their competence, management skills and political neutrality.
Such qualified chief executives can implement reforms and raise productivity in their companies. If the public sector is ruined, the people will have to pay. The public sector corporations have lost credibility. It can be restored starting with reform in appointments in management.