The thugs at the Korean Confederation of trade unions see opportunity in their country’s bad economic times, reports the sympathetic Hankyoreh:
The KCTU plans to launch an “all out war” against the Lee administration in February, since it has again made known its intention to have the ruling Grand National Party pass revisions to laws on irregular workers and the minimum wage in the extraordinary National Assembly session scheduled for that month. The KCTU plans to launch its offensive with demands for labor-government negotiations early in the month, and will then hold large daily rallies beginning in the third week, leading to a protest involving 30,000 of its members on the 28th.
“We can’t stop the bad legislative proposals originating with Lee Myung-bak,” said KCTU Secretary-General Lee Yong-sik. “Unless we have a war. [The Hankyoreh]
If you live in South Korea, mark your calendars and plan on spending those days with your Wii. The KCTU has a history of bringing iron pipes, bamboo poles, and like implements of free expression to its demonstrations. Yet things aren’t really working out the way the KCTU had hoped:
It is unfortunate to see that the economic stagnation is weakening the union’s ability to wage labor struggles and that it could see a rise in self-interest among regular, as opposed to irregular, workers, and among unions at different companies.
For starters, there are fewer participants at KCTU rallies. Fewer than 100 KCTU members actually joined in its “48-Hour National Action to Stop the Broadcast Law” in the final days of 2008.
Union officials confirm that they are seeing a continued lack of power to involve large numbers of people in protests.
The Hanky helpfully theorizes that in bad economic times, workers may not want to rock the boat. I wouldn’t be astonished if the KCTU’s violence had begun to alienate workers, employers, and smaller unions considering an affiliation with them.
The KCTU has also suffered from its sudden inability to sow anarchy in the streets with impunity. The jihad the KCTU declared against Lee Myung Bak a year ago played a significant role in the beef riots that seriously damaged President Lee’s presidency, but when the entire basis for the riots was exposed as false, the radical left may well have emerged from the entire crisis with less public confidence that the U.S. beef that’s now flying off Korean store shelves. President Lee, not the sort to back down magnanimously when confronted, arrested the KCTU’s president and several other of its leaders in December for organizing “illegal” and characteristically violent demonstrations. The KCTU president sits in jail to this day.
When you subtract out all of the hours the KCTU devotes to anarchy and juche, it’s a wonder they have any time at all to think of their rank and file. Personally, I’ve long believed that South Koreans need to set aside an outlet for their more combative side where the fisticuffs wouldn’t impede traffic. They could set aside a special gladiators’ arena for that specific purpose, complete with bamboo poles, riot shields, and tear gas grenades for rent by the opposing sides. Think of the revenue the season ticket sales would generate … for education, of course. We could call it “Demo Land.” I even know where there’s some vacant land they could use.