KORAIL union’s strike
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.