A joint meeting between the two Koreas’ workers organizations was held Saturday, prior to a football match between inter-Korean workers. Kim Myung-hwan, chief of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), told at the meeting that foreign forces are still impeding unification on the Korean Peninsula, keeping sanctions against North Korea in place. His remarks followed a comment made by Ju Young-gil, chief of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea. Previously, Mr. Ju said that it is the most ridiculous thing to let others take control of your own family’s affairs, emphasizing that the principle of national self-determination has to be firmly upheld. On Wednesday, the KCTU chief was accompanied by 328 liberal leftists to issue a joint declaration for the lifting of sanctions against North Korea and the announcement of a war-ending declaration.
It is not a news any more that South Korean leftists have supported the North’s position over the last several decades since the North began developing a nuclear program. KCTU Leadership, a self-claimed key leftist, has also joined major activities such as left wingers’ joint declarations. However, it is against the province of labor movement that the KCTU, as a high-level union organization, intervenes deeply in diplomatic and security issues. Added to this, members of the central vanguard for unification of the KCTU held a resolution conference on Saturday in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, calling for the nullification of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) signed between South Korea and Japan as it has ended up with purposelessness. Given the recent series of the KCTU’s behavior and activities, its nature and identity are highly questionable.
Labor unons are supposed to have a political freedom to safeguard the three rights of labor, and benefits and rights of workers. Certainly, they can raise their voice regarding liberal matters such as human rights, LGBT protection, peace, and unification. However, the issues of North Korea sanctions or GSOMIA are not a matter of political orientation. As a matter of fact, the KCTU has constantly made excessive requests in return for their contributions to the candle light revolution, since the Moon administration was launched. It is deplorable that the labor union even attempts to have a say over diplomatic and security matters.
The KCTU has not played a crucial role in political activities to which it is supposed to contribute. A bunch of difficult challenges are piled up, having greatly negative influence on workers’ quality of life and job security, such as the issues of the minimum hourly wage, reduced work hours, labor market reforms and restructuring of declining industries. Even if labor, management and the government put their heads together to resolve these challenging issues, it will never be easy to find a solution. Nevertheless, it has proposed no reasonable requests or alternatives regarding the pending labor-related issues, even after boycotting a May meeting among representatives of labor, management and the government. The labor union should refrain from intervening in the North Korean nuclear issue, which goes against its original duties and national interests, and instead be reminded of the purposes of the three rights of labor protected by the Constitution and relevant law.