Stop the illicit strike

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Stop the illicit strike

The strike by the labor union of the Korea Railroad Corporation has already cost a life. An 84-year-old woman died at the Gwacheon Government Complex Station on Subway Line No. 4 after her foot was caught in the door of a train on the platform. She was dragged more than three feet before her head hit a door. The worker in charge of ordering the train doors closed was a temporary substitute for striking workers. He was also a freshman at the College of Railroad Science of the Korea National University of Transportation.

Labor and management of Korail are busy shifting the responsibility to each other. Even though the passenger’s death cannot be definitely concluded to be a direct result of the walkout, the risk would have been much lower if the workers were not on strike. After such a tragic death, people’s anxiety has deepened over the longest-ever strike, which enters its ninth day today.

Due to the prolongation of the strike, Seoul Subway workers’ fatigue has reached the limit. Since the strike, Seoul Subway Lines 1, 3, 4, the Bundang Line, Gyeongui Line and Central Line have been running without sufficient manpower, not to mention the bullet train KTXs. No one knows when another loss of life or tragic accident will occur down the line.

We have urged the union to immediately stop the strike because it was illicit from the outset. But they are bent on illegitimate walkouts as they oppose a “privatization” of Korail, which they believe would deny residents of mountainous areas access to the railways when the company is in red ink. What about the people now suffering unnecessary inconvenience in icy cold winter due to the strike?

The union argued that if Korail establishes a subsidiary to run a new high-speed railway service from Suseo, southeast of Seoul, to Busan in 2015, it will help management stealthily privatize the railways. Does that mean passengers must suffer whenever they are on strike?

To make matters worse, the opposition Democratic Party is echoing the union’s words. It demanded the government stop oppressing the union and establish a consultative body to settle the case. Turning a blind eye to the public uproar against the strike, the opposition enjoys taking advantage of it to attack the government.

Railway services are not a way of fattening the union’s bellies. It must stop the strike quickly. Korail and the government must make the union accountable for all the damages, too.
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