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[Opinion] Trade Union Shooting Slingshots

Posted October. 18, 2005 06:51,   


Several empty bottles fell from a laboratory shelf. Then something strange happened. All the bottles shattered into pieces except one. This one had spider web-like cracks, but it was still in one piece. This mysterious incident aroused the curiosity of scientists. How was this possible? The bottle did not break because of a chemical called Collodion, which was in the bottle. As the chemical evaporated, it formed a thin film inside the bottle, preventing the bottle from breaking. This incident happened in France in 1904.

That was how today’s “safety glass” came to exist. The windshield of a car actually consists of two glass plates with a plastic film between them, just like a sandwich. In case of an external shock, the glass may break, but the broken pieces remain stuck onto the film. This protects the driver from injury caused by the shattered glass pieces. Nevertheless, safety glass is unable to absorb sound. If a stone as small as a rice grain hits the windshield, the driver can become so startled by the shock wave that he/she may lose grip of the handle, possibly leading to a large-scale accident.

Throwing metal beads at the windshield of a fully-loaded dump truck on the road is like an act of murder. It is not just the matter of the truck, but a matter that can kill or wound many people in a chain collision. Such a frightful incident happened in Gyeonggi Province last weekend when a number of dump truck drivers shot at their colleague’s trucks with slingshots. The assaulted drivers said they were attacked because they did not join the strike of Solidarity of Dump Truck Drivers.

The Solidarity of Dump Truck Drivers of National Construction and Transport Workers Union, affiliated to Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), has been on a general strike since last Thursday. It is demanding fuel assistance, breaking down of the multi-level structure of subcontractors, and less stringent crackdown on overloading. The Solidarity of Freight Workers is currently voting on strike action as well. There is nothing wrong with trade unions’ going on strike. However, retaliation against fellow colleagues is an action against humanity that denies the very existence of trade unions. KCTU must withdraw its aggressive struggle directive which gave rise to the “slingshot attack.” It is undesirable for KCTU, which has already suffered a great blow with inside corruption, to gain an evil reputation as “a trade union shooting slingshots.”

Song Dae-keun, Editorial Writer, dksong@donga.com