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Park’s self-serving politics (KOR)

Nov 20,2018
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon attended and made a speech at a rally of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), one of the nation’s two umbrella union groups, on Saturday. The rally, held at the National Assembly, protested an agreement to allow greater flextime in workplaces to relieve the side effects from the universal cut in the legal workweek. The agreement was reached during a meeting of the president, government officials and the floor leaders of political parties. A mayor affiliated with the ruling Democratic Party joined a union rally opposing a hard-won bipartisan agreement backed by the president and ruling party.

The revision proposes extending the maximum flextime for a worksite from three months to either six months or a year, taking into account the economic troubles and woes at companies struggling to meet with orders and legal work hours. The two umbrella union groups, including the more militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), oppose the extension of the flextime and are threatening a general strike on Nov. 21.

As soon as the assembly of nearly 30,000 unionists clad in red heard Mayor Park vow to be a mayor for the workers and make the city environment favorable for union activities, they started cheering and chanting that they wanted to go on with a struggle until they can stop the “evil” law.

Im Jong-seok, President Moon Jae-in’s chief of staff who served as a deputy mayor under Park, recently said that the KCTU and the outlawed union of teachers should no longer be considered socially weak. The student activist-turned-politician said that unions also should share social responsibility. Park did not reveal his thoughts on unions’ responsibilities to society.

Nor did he mention his thoughts on flextime. He nevertheless demonstrated his support for the union by appearing at the rally. This is purely self-serving. Even the ruling party is baffled by Park’s solo act. A selfish political act helps no one.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 19, Page 30