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[Opinion] Labor-Management Harmony

Posted September. 11, 2006 06:03,   


The tradition of women naming new ships started among the Vikings around the Middle Ages in Northern Europe. Sacrificing a virgin to Poseidon after building a new ship was a custom of the Vikings. However, since the custom was considered to be too cruel, a new custom was introduced. The new custom was to bless the boat in a Christian way. Usually, the captain’s daughter or wife was obliged to name the new boat as a god mother naming her “child.”

The highlight of the launching ceremony is sending the boat to sea by cutting the rope which connects the boat to the dock. This part resembles the cutting of a baby’s umbilical cord, which connects the baby to his/her mother. There are many myths why ships are identified as “she” in the Western world. Some people criticize it saying that it is gender discrimination. However, the sailors indicate ships as women because ships are very similar to women: difficult to control and impossible to forecast what will happen next. Also, sailors wish to finish their sailing safely by naming the ship with a female name.

The naming ceremony of the new container ship which was made by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. by the order of a German company, Conti, was held on September 8. Conti thanked Hyundai Heavy Industries for building such a high-quality ship two months earlier than scheduled. This was possible because there was no confrontation between the employers and the employees. Conti asked Cho Mi-suk, the labor union chairman’s wife, to name the ship. It is common for the female relative of the ship’s owner or the women executive of the company to name a new ship. However, it was the first time for the labor union chairman’s wife to name a new ship. Cho said that naming the new ship will be “the honor of my life.”

January, last year, Hyundai Heavy Industries’ labor union chairman wrote a letter to Exxon Mobile. He thanked Exxon Mobile for ordering a project to Hyundai, which cost as much as $800 million. In response, Exxon Mobile sent $10 million in bonus to Hyundai Heavy Industries for keeping all the conditions on quality and schedule. It seems the peaceful twelve years of no confrontation between the company and the labor union was not just achieved one day. In addition, the fruitful results of the good companionship between the employers and the employees are distributed equally to both sides. I wish the peaceful cruise of the “CMA CGM Jamaica” which is a co-product of Hyundai and its workers.

Chung Seong-hui, Editorial Writer, shchung@donga.com