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Emergency Government Intervention May Start Tomorrow

Posted August. 09, 2005 03:07,   


The government has started making preparations to call an emergency government intervention as early as August 10, regarding the Asiana Airlines pilots’ union strike, which is already into its 23rd day.

Also, the government is looking into measures to restrain strictly airline strikes by designating the Aviation & Transportation industry as a “required public service industry,” just like the electricity, gas, water, and hospital industries.

Such actions by the government is in fact limiting actions by labor unions, thus opposition from the labor sector is also expected.

Government’s Strong Actions –

Asiana Airlines management and the pilot labor union have exceeded the government’s deadline. The two sides negotiated till the early morning on August 8 but did not come to a conclusion.

The government announced on the morning of August 8 that it held a meeting and developed a policy to solve this problem, which included the emergency government intervention. Participants of the meeting included Minister Choo Byung-jik of Construction and Transportation, Minister Kim Dae-hwan of Labor, Lee Hee-bum of Commerce, Industry, and Energy, the chief presidential secretary for the related area, and Minister Cho Young-taek of Office for Government Policy Coordination. These members will hold a final discussion at the state affairs meeting in the morning of August 9 and will plan on starting the intervention the next day following the suggestion of the head of National Labor Relations Commission.

Minister Choo stated after the meeting, “The economic importance of aviation industry as passenger and freight traffic should be considered. We will look into designating the Aviation & Transportation industry as a required public service industry by revising the according regulations.”

Background and Prospects-

The Ministry of Labor explained, “The government decided to intervene because of the negative impact on the national economy and our international credibility if the strike was prolonged longer.”

The government emphasized that in preparing a solution, it will not be compromising requests from the two sides, but it will strictly adhere to the laws and principles, to maximize public interest. Through this, the government has clearly conveyed that the personnel and management topics the two sides are arguing over will not be negotiated.

The government has taken this route twice so far, during strikes at Korea Shipbuilding Corporation in 1969 and at Hyundai Motors in 1993.

Both companies agreed to follow an autonomous negotiation as soon as the government intervention worked out. The labor union and the management had much pressure put on them as the disputes were forcibly concluded by the government measure.

Keuk-In Bae Hee-Jae Park bae2150@donga.com min07@donga.com