KTU must respect the lawMembers of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union, a liberal organization, plan to leave school early on Friday to take part in a joint rally at Seoul Station in central Seoul in the afternoon. It is their first collective walkout since they protested the government plan to enforce unilateral teachers’ performance reviews in 2006. This time, they are opposing an administrative order following a high court ruling that stripped the union of its legal status. If the ruling is upheld at a higher court, the union will be outlawed, losing its status and collective bargaining rights.
The KTU has disregarded the law many times before. But this time, it is claiming it can beat the law. If it has complaints with the court’s decision, it should take the appropriate procedures to appeal it. There are measures for legal relief. Instead, the KTU has turned to political action, discrediting the judiciary as a servant working to please President Park Geun-hye and her conservative government.
They claim that their member teachers can ask for early leave and that they won’t cause a disturbance in the classroom because they can have their classes covered by non-member teachers. But they are reading their rights while disregarding their primary role. A collective walkout by teachers in public schools is clearly aimed at pressuring the government. It violates the obligation clause of the Public Employees’ Law. There is a precedent to punish teachers who leave school to join the mass strike.
Protesting against government authority while enjoying all the benefits as a public employee cannot be tolerated. The teachers’ union’s actions can cause confusion in schools and risk the credibility of teachers. The Education Ministry should take action against illegal activities from teachers according to the law. It must treat union activities as unlawful if it has lost its legal status. This principle must be upheld in the 13 administrative jurisdictions where liberal, union-friendly education superintendents were elected earlier this month.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 25, Page 30