Go to contents

[Editorial] Flight Disturbance Should be Stopped

Posted June. 08, 2001 09:48,   


Massive flight disturbance is anticipated as the Korean Air (KAL) pilot’s union and Asiana Airlines labor union have announced to strike on 12th, the time when Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU)’ general strike is scheduled. If strike takes place, all air flight has to be suspended. If Asiana’s maintenance crew participates in the strike, the safety of the flights is most concerning. The labor unions of the two airline’s decision to strike along with the KCTU’s strike schedule, which may bring about the flight cancellation or threaten the safety of the flight, cannot win people’s sympathy. There is no precedent case where both the KAL pilot’s union and the management have handed over the KCTU and the Korea Employers Federation (KEF) respectively the right to negotiate, although it is legal. It is desirable that the labor-management issue is negotiated through the independent endeavor of the labor-management. Although a third party can intervene in the labor-management issue to bring forth a good result through the mediation, the KAL’s case is different since the third party intervened at the end of the emotional antagonism. Moreover, the KCTU and the KEF have often stood in opposition in regard to the pending issues of the labor-management relation. The fact that both labor union and the management entrusted their rights of negotiation to the third party implies that the both parties do not want to negotiate.

Both KAL and Asiana Airlines were reported to have had a great amount of deficit last year due to the high oil price, high exchange rate of the dollar, and the decrease in the number of the passengers as a result of the economic recession. The demand by the union of the KAL pilots for the 21 percent raise in wage (56 percent according to the claim of the company) only 8 months after having achieved the 17 percent wage raise last August is unreasonable.

The company is responsible for the union’s opposition because it did not keep the agreement to establish the flight regulation review committee for the purpose of negotiating the safety of the flight and the labor condition between the company and the pilot’s union. The pilot’s union is willing to negotiate the issue of wage raise as long as the flight regulation review committee is formed.

The claim made by the two private companies to designate themselves as the essential public industry, where the pilots’ strike is impossible, should be taken into consideration by examining cases in other countries. International Labor Organization (ILO) advises Korea to reduce the number of the essential public good industries. Also, the labor union’s strike in the airline companies is not illegal in European countries. As for the U.S., when the strike is serious enough to harm the national economy, the president can order to stop the strike. Two market share of the airline companies in the international flight is so high in Korea compared with other countries, the inconveniences of the passengers are anticipated when the strike takes place. The labor-management of the two companies should find some resolution to stop the massive flight disturbance.