KORAIL union’s strike

The Korea Times - - OPINION -

About 6,000 union work­ers at the Korea Rail­road Corp. (KORAIL) con­tin­ued their par­tial strike de­mand­ing a pay raise and bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions for the third con­sec­u­tive day, Sun­day.

The num­ber of strik­ing work­ers rep­re­sents about 30 per­cent of union mem­bers at KORAIL. For­tu­nately, the union will end the strike at 9 a.m. to­day. How­ever, it warned the gov­ern­ment and KORAIL man­age­ment that it will launch a full strike next month if its de­mands are not met.

It is ob­vi­ous that the union is us­ing the par­tial strike as a lever­age to max­i­mize its in­ter­ests in the up­com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to KORAIL, 75.2 per­cent of the coun­try’s reg­u­lar pas­sen­ger ser­vices were in op­er­a­tion, Sun­day. About 68 per­cent of KTX high-speed trains were op­er­ated, com­pared to a nor­mal Sun­day.

The union is de­mand­ing man­age­ment in­crease wages and hire more staff, among oth­ers. Man­age­ment and union can nar­row their dif­fer­ences on th­ese is­sues. But there is one de­mand that man­age­ment can never ac­cept — the union is call­ing for merger of an­other high-speed train ser­vice, SRT, into KTX. In other words, the union is in­ter­ven­ing in a man­age­rial is­sue in an ap­par­ent bid to keep its vested in­ter­ests. This is wrong.

Merg­ing SRT into KTX is a com­pli­cated is­sue that re­quires prior con­sul­ta­tions with rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the trans­port and fi­nance min­istries. The union may know its de­mand about SRT is un­re­al­is­tic, but is ap­par­ently us­ing this as a bar­gain­ing tool. If so, it will not be able to avoid crit­i­cism that it is hold­ing pas­sen­gers hostage to max­i­mize its in­ter­ests.

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