Getting away with itMilitant unionists under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) attempted to force their way into the National Assembly on Wednesday to protest the legislature’s review of flextime policies. Some assaulted police and journalists as they tried to remove a police barricade. Kim Myeong-hwan, head of the KCTU, and 25 others were arrested, but released later in the night because there was “little concern of their fleeing or destroying evidence.”
If ordinary citizens were so violent with law enforcement authorities, they could not have walked away so blithely. It is as if the KCTU enjoys a free pass under the liberal administration, which believes it is indebted to the combative umbrella union for ousting former President Park Geun-hye on abuse of power and corruption charges and electing President Moon Jae-in through the union group’s active participation in orchestrating massive candlelight vigils calling for Park’s impeachment.
The KCTU had a rally in front of the National Assembly to oppose an outline to extend statutory flextime to six months from the current three to help maintain industrial output following the sharp cutback in the workweek. The outline was agreed to in a meeting of a presidential tripartite council on labor affairs with representatives of companies, labor and government. Despite repeated pleas, the KCTU has opted not to partake in the dialogue. Refusing dialogue and later protesting just because it was unhappy with the results of the meeting does not make sense.
Illegal rallies and protests by the KCTU have become routine. They habitually resort to raids, occupations and illegitimate strikes if their demands are not met. Their offenses form a long list — occupation of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office building lobby in Seoul and the District Prosecutors’ Office in Daegu, raids on labor offices across the nation and occupation of the Gimcheon mayoral office in North Gyeongsang.
Long ago, it abandoned the civilized manner it displayed during the candlelight vigils. The KCTU remains defiant. In an executive meeting on Thursday, the KCTU leadership did not consider returning to the presidential tripartite body, but only endorsed a plan to kick off a general strike soon.
KCTU members have topped one million. But it does not show any responsibility in representing Korean workers nor demonstrate any concern for the economy. To make matter worse, the liberal administration sits on its hands in the face of the unfettered use of violence by the umbrella union.
JoongAng Sunday, April 6-7, Page 30
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