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[Editorial] Ministers: Unions Are Acting Illegally

Posted February. 09, 2006 04:30,   


The ministers of Justice, Government Administration, and Home Affairs and Labor said yesterday that the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) and the Federation of Government Employees Union (FGEU) are operating as illegal organizations, and that legal action could be taken against them.

The basic order of Korea will collapse if the KGEU and the FGEU neglect the Government Employees Union Act and cling to the belief that labor unions are above the law, they said. This is why the government’s consideration of legal action should be realized.

The KGEU recently decided to join the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) in declaring its support for “a particular party” in the May 31 local elections. It is certain that the “particular party” in question is the Korean Democratic Labor Party (KDLP).

The Constitution and laws forbid government employees to engage in political activities because they are public servants. But if the KGEU engages in political activities, the root of the public service sector would be controlled by the KDLP, regardless of the public’s choice through elections.

The KGEU and the FGEU have resisted the Government Employees Union Act, which denies them the right to collective action, but the Korean Teachers and Educational Worker`s Union (KTEWU) for educational public service employees does not have that right either. If the KGEU gains the right to act collectively, the KCTU would be able to make the KGEU engage in general strikes, paralyzing both the central and local governments at one stroke.

The government employee union’s right to bargain collectively should be restricted. The budget act should conform to the resolutions of the National Assembly and local assemblies. The labor union cannot be allowed to participate in agency management and policy decisions; they belong to government and local government heads. With the May local elections approaching, the government must step up its oversight of the KGEU and FGEU to make sure local government heads are not pressured into entering into collective agreements with them.

Many of the KGEU leaders are former public officials who were dismissed for illegal strikes before the Government Employee Union Act was enacted, so they are no longer government employees and are therefore unqualified to join the Government Employees Union. If the government fails to stop them from taking over the government employee union and transferring it to the KCTU or the KDLP, completely disregarding the law, the government does not deserve to collect taxes.