Go to contents

[Editorial] Another KCTU Strike

Posted November. 23, 2006 06:49,   


The grass square in front of Seoul City Hall was filled with the vociferous cries and songs of some 10,000 people holding some 100 large flags yesterday afternoon. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) held a strike and the Korea Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (KTU) held a protest there. In the KCTU’s anti-FTA strike, a variety of people participated, from farmers and college professors to doctors. They called themselves “people of a colonized country.” A woman protester’s ringing voice cried out, “Workers who don’t struggle are not workers at all!”

This is the sixth strike of the KCTU this year, and the 12th protest of the KTU since it was legalized in 1999. Lost working days due to strikes increased 48 percent year-on-year. This truly befits Korea’s reputation as the “strike leader” in the world. It is no coincidence that 82.7 percent of illegal strikes during the last five years took place in affiliated workplaces of the KCTU. They seem ignorant of the government’s laws and the concerns of the people.

The court ruled KTU’s taking a one-day leave for protest as illegal. The demands and methods of the two unions cannot be labeled as just rights protection measures. Their demand to withdraw troops from Iraq, and sending representatives to the U.S. to oppose the KORUS FTA, are all political struggles. The KTU’s protest against the new evaluation system for teachers is another political struggle beyond their right to politics.

KCTU head Cho Jun-ho referred to Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) as the “yellow union” in a recent press conference, implying that a union that maintains a harmonious relationship with management is not a union. It is wonder if they even understood the foreign reporter’s question of what impact strikes have on foreign investors.

Laws and constitution should not protect unions that negate capitalist economic system. The KTU said that the protests would have no negative impact on school lessons, but lessons are more than just fulfilling class time. It is understandable that the parents have started a movement to refuse incompetent teachers. The government is responsible in that it only penalized nine KTU members for protesting, and even those nine people were only reprimanded. I wonder how we can say this nation upholds the rule of law.