Scrap a general strike

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Scrap a general strike

The standoff between the union of the Korea Railroad Corporation and the government is taking a dangerous turn. After the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions decided to stage a general strike Saturday to support the walkout by the railroad union, the confrontation between labor and government is likely to escalate into a full-blown battle.

The KCTU declared it will mobilize all affiliates under its umbrella to enter a general strike to demonstrate its fury against the government after police raided the headquarters of the KCTU, of which the railway union is a member, to arrest the union leaders. The confederation also threatened to form an alliance with all citizens in favor of the resignation of President Park Geun-hye through a chain of candlelit protests. The KCTU made clear its intention to link its solidarity strike to a full-fledged movement to pressure the president to resign.

We are dumbfounded by the umbrella confederation’s determination to expand the scope of strikes as it will only make the situation worse by elevating the railway strike into an anti-government protest. That raises the strong suspicion that the walkout by the railway union was in fact a proxy strike on behalf of the KCTU with impure political motives, including the brazen denial of the results of last December’s democratically-held presidential election and, by extension, a movement calling for the resignation of the president. If the umbrella group presses ahead with a general strike despite deepening worries by citizens, it will surely lead to a catastrophic end. The government has already declared the railway union’s strike illegitimate. If the KCTU jumps on the political bandwagon, buoyed by support from the opposition and other liberal forces, it will most likely escalate into an uncontrollable situation.

We urge the KCTU to withdraw immediately its unreasonable decision to stage a general strike and instead help settle the railway union’s unauthorized actions. The KCTU’s role is to minimize the damage of its subsidiary unions and maximize the interests of member unions, not to take the lead in an unlawful strike at the expense of totally unrelated unions.

The Korea Employers Federation has said it will hold unrelated unions accountable for any losses from their participation in the general strike, not to mention a strict application of “No Work, No Pay.” The Hyundai Motor union, a subsidiary of the KCTU, has announced that only union leaders will join in the general strike. That amounts to a de facto rejection of it. We hope the KCTU regains its sense quickly and scraps its reckless plan to stage a general strike.
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