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Labor activist`s strike on a crane

Posted July. 30, 2011 03:00,   


Tension is rising at the Yeongdo shipyard in Busan of Hanjin Heavy Industries in the run-up to the third “Hope Bus” campaign Saturday. Labor activists and opposition party members are poised to push for the campaign to support Kim Jin-suk. Kim, who is staging a strike on a crane, is a senior member of the Busan branch of the hardline Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. Civic organizations in Busan and Yeongdo residents are determined to stop the campaign, however.

Hanjin management and labor agreed Wednesday to end the strike and lay off workers through voluntary retirement. Despite this, Kim has continued her strike for more than 200 days. Few know what her purpose is and when she will stop a strike that management, labor and residents strongly oppose. Kim is aggravating the situation by staging the strike on a crane, which police cannot approach.

The Hope Bus campaign has turned into a political game. The main opposition Democratic Party is embroiled in internal conflict due to the campaign. Party chief Sohn Hak-kyu is opposed to the campaign, but non-mainstream party members are urging him to join, saying the party leader is "unmindful of his duty.” For the Democratic Party, however, being in line with the progressive Democratic Labor Party and the New Progressive Party is not the way to fulfill its duties. Ignoring a legal agreement between management and labor while pursuing political interests is the last thing lawmakers or those who have taken power should do. A campaign that causes inconvenience for residents and undermines the regional economy cannot boost hope. An opposition party`s duty is not causing trouble or creating a society where laws are not respected.

The ruling Grand National Party is disgruntled at Hanjin Chairman Heavy Industries Cho Nam-ho, who is sitting on his hands abroad. Lee Joo-yeong, head of the ruling party’s policy planning committee, said he will accept the opposition`s demand for a parliamentary hearing attended by Cho if Kim ends her strike. “If Cho fails to appear at the hearing, we will take legal action against him,” said Lee. Despite this, the Democratic Party said, “Conducting the hearing is a different matter. If a solution appears, Kim will come down from the crane.” Such a negative attitude clearly shows the Democratic Party`s intent to use Kim as a means to promote its political interests. If the three opposition parties really respect human rights, they should urge Kim to end her protest and take care of her health.

For its part, the ruling party should help resolve the problem by abandoning its lukewarm attitude. The Democratic Party must refrain from taking action that can incite Kim to continue her strike. Kim should immediately end the strike. For his part, Chairman Cho should return home quickly to attend the parliamentary hearing.