Roh pushes for better labor talksIn a luncheon meeting with 26 business leaders yesterday, President Roh Moo-hyun said that he will ensure that labor conflicts do not weaken economic competitiveness.
“I will never tolerate labor-management relations to hurt the national economy or industrial competitiveness,” Mr. Roh said. “[The government] will find systematic methods where labor-management relations can lead to heightened industrial competitiveness in the next year or two.”
Dining over the hot samggyetang (boiled chicken stuffed with rice and herbs), a favorite of Mr. Roh’s, were the heads of the nation’s top conglomerates who had accompanied him on his May visit to the United States. They included Son Kil-seung, chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, and Lee Kun-hee, chairman of the Samsung Group, Koo Bon-moo of LG Corp. and Chung Mong-koo of Hyundai Motor Co.
Mr. Roh said, “Just as the labor unions bank on the right to strike, the corporations and government must not have dialogues or negotiations that do not rest on law and principle.” He added that the government will strictly adhere to dialogue and law for resolving all labor-management conflict.
He expressed support for privatization, but said that the government will make further considerations before privatizing the railroads and power utilities.
During the meal that went on for two hours and 40 minutes, the president thanked the business leaders for their work during the trip to the United States. “You set the tone for the seven-day trip, which made it easier for me to express our stance and strengthen understanding,” Mr. Roh said. He also thanked them for the 25-trillion-won ($21 billion) investment package recently announced by 14 businesses. “The announcement came at a good timing as we were considering how to explain to the public the result of the U.S. visit.”
“Business leaders asked that the government apply the law on illegal labor conflicts in order to increase foreign investment,” said Lee Hae-sung, the senior secretary for public information.
by Choi Hoon
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