Resorting to force only backfires while achieving nothing
The union of auto parts maker Yoosung Enterprise held a news conference Thursday and apologized for its recent use of violence. Expressing deep regret, the union vowed not to cause a similar situation again and wished for the speedy recovery of an injured executive.
The violent incident occurred a week ago. Last Thursday, a group of union members broke into their CEO's office, locked up two executives and assaulted one of them. The executive surnamed Kim suffered severe injuries, including a broken nose, requiring 12 weeks of hospitalization.
The union had been staging a sit-in in the company's Seoul office since Oct. 15, demanding direct negotiations with the company's owner concerning the management's alleged union-busting activities.
Unionized workers said the assault was accidental and continued for only a few minutes. The unionists' acts were unthinkable, however. Violence cannot be tolerated in any situation. If people try to solve problems with their fists instead of through talking, this society is sure to fall into chaos.
Unlawful acts, whether by individuals or groups, should not be condoned. The union's apology was more than natural in this regard. Those unionists who took part in the assault should be punished accordingly. Police officers on the scene allegedly stopped short of actively preventing the violence. The police should also get to the bottom of this response as well as the case as a whole through a self-audit.
The management of the company is hardly free from blame, either. The company's chairman was placed under court custody in February last year on charges of committing unfair labor practices, including attempts to neutralize the union, and was later jailed for 14 months. This year, too, the company avoided meeting with the union, holding just one set of negotiations in 45 days.
Violations of law and order are happening in various corners of society. On Tuesday, a 70-something farmer threw a firebomb at the car of Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su. Korea should never allow any of these types of violent incidents to recur.
A country with the lax rule of law cannot defend human rights and democracy. All members of society ought to abide by laws and regulations, and the law enforcement authorities ought to enforce them strictly.
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