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[Editorial] The KCTU Should Take Heed of the Public Opinion

[Editorial] The KCTU Should Take Heed of the Public Opinion

Posted August. 28, 2003 18:10,   


President Roh Moo-hyun denounced the Korean Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU), while showing his determination to strictly address the recent strikes of truck drivers and cargo firms. During a cabinet meeting on August 26, the President said “Some believe that the KCTU was closely involved in the recent protests of truck drivers and cargo firms”, adding, ”Considering that the recent incident was unilateral and illegal, the KCTU‘s activities look unjustifiable.” In an interview on the same day with a newspaper, he disclosed to say “I had no choice but to discarding the original plan of solving problems with labor unions nationwide through comprehensive dialogues and a mutual concession.”

The recent and dramatic change from the President‘s consistent attitude toward laborers, as demonstrated from the remark, seems to come from the belief that violent labor movements, led or sponsored by the KCTU, have further worsening the nation’s economic situation. This might also be a reflection of the public opinion that labor movements in Korean went too far to generate public compassion. The recent change in the government attitude toward the labor community is believed inevitable, and therefore welcomed by the public.

In a society where only 12% of Korean laborers are unionized, labor groups, such as the KCTU cannot represent the interests of all workers in the nation. It must not be overlooked that some unionists at conglomerates enjoy all the benefits of job security and high salaries at the expense of subcontract workers, temporary workers, and the jobless. Yet, the KCTU members went even further to criticize the president for not taking on their side any more, saying with their malicious tongue as “President Roh, the green shaman –meaning a rookie-, is killing Korean workers out of ignorance.” This kind of indecent behavior will only isolate themselves from the public instead of earning public compassion.

Before uttering “the president‘s betrayal of workers”, the KCTU members should reflect on themselves. They should consider what made the President to say “I no longer want to question whether laws are rightful. Instead, I will respond to the problems with uncompromising determination in accordance to laws and principles.”

Now is the time for the labor union to change. Its easy and excessive resort to violent strikes hit the masses and the poor the hardest. The KCTU should take seriously the criticism even from the members of Busan port workers‘ union, who said “Taking the national competitiveness as hostage is an imprudent class action.”