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Video Clips Show Union’s Radical Edge

Posted July. 15, 2006 06:22,   


“The capitalists are all the same. They ought to be blamed. Let’s get together with the construction labor unions and give a punch to the moneyed interest!” (Online video, episode 206, produced by the Hyundai Motor’s labor union).

Describing capitalists as an enemy, a series of online video clips created by the Hyundai Motor’s labor union has sparked a controversy. The union posted the movies on their online bulletin board.

The number of video clips, which started in May 2002, totals 206, and the clips are aired openly in a cafeteria of a Hyundai factory in Ulsan every Friday. The South Korea’s no. 1 carmaker prohibited the open airing, effective on April 7, because the movies were too provocative. As of July 14, the video clips in question, however, remain on their website.

In the 206th episode, a union member criticizes the managerial executives, saying, “Chung Mong-koo, Hyundai Motor chairman, snatched 35.6 billion won last year, including 4.2 billion won of his salary and stock dividends. Though those who work hard to death are the employees like us, and those who rake in money are management. There is 35.6 billion won for the top executives, but as little as 45 million won for us. This reality makes me frustrated.”

In a segment called “Knowledge is power” in the 205th episode, capitalists are ascribed to exploit labors and the government is declared a group who protects the moneyed.

As the video clips are spreading quickly onto many websites, online public opinion is critical of one of the largest labor unions in South Korea.

A blogger (ID scksong) posted his opinion after seeing the video clips, “In general, I agree with the necessity of a labor movement, but I don’t understand them in this case. In short, what the union said in the 206th episode sounded like communism. Perhaps, if their requirements are all accepted, Hyundai Motors will collapse in three years.”

Another blogger also argued furiously, “The union members may better establish their own company to get equal profits. Why don’t they do that, instead of getting employed?”

Experts on management-labor relations point out, “The Hyundai Motor’s labor union is in the wrong direction or anachronistic by teaching the hard stance of the theory of the struggle of classes to its members. The Hyundai labor union needs to understand that the world labor movement is moving forward win-win management-labor relationship.”

Dong-Bin Seok mobidic@donga.com