Hope for victory lies in strong and determined struggle!
Dec 21 2007
E-land and New Core workers' strike, in its 7th month, faces a new phase, following presidential election (of Dec. 19, won by the hard-right One Nation Party candidate). E-land employers dismissed 33 union leaders and staff members - 18 from the New Core union, 15 from the E-land union - close to presidential election day, as it were in celebration of coming to power of Lee Myoung-back, former CEO of a big company. Moreover, KCTU real estate was provisionally seized at the same time.
But the E-land employers don't refuse negotiation. They rather make full use of negotiation to divide strikers and destroy strikers' hope, before the rush period of Christmas and yearend.
They are aiming to divide the strikers.
There were several negotiations before election day, but what E-land employers had suggested was entirely aimed at division of workers.
"Guarantee of safe employment if workers survive 3 times renewal of contract" - This means employers want to maintain division between regular and irregular workers by refusing safe employment of irregular workers!
"Workers before 2 years can apply for regular jobs if they show excellence on their jobs" - They want to go further in division among irregular workers!
"When personnel changes be needed, it will be left up to conference between managers and a worker concerned" - That means "Surrender to employers!" ; Employers are threatening that they will destroy union organization on the shop floor even if strikers win this struggle and go back to their jobs!
In short, E-land employers won't try to make serious concessions. All they have suggested is poisoned. They even requested "Workers should share suffering" - in other words, there would be no wage increase until next year.
Those who are suffering are not only workers.
"Employers are also seriously suffering as much as we are" "Strong and determined gains the victory"
The fighting will of strikers lies in these slogans despite arrest of union leaders, lack of livelihood, provisional seizure and attachment. They have held this struggle firmly as long as 180 days and won't cease their strike until victory.
As time goes by, these slogans are not only for promoting fighting will, but becoming a real thing. The accumulated deficit of E-land up to September this year reaches 116.1 billion won($ 125 million) . If added to the cost to E-Land of the boycott movement carried throughout the fall, the deficit record would reach more serious figures.
E-land employers signed a memorandum of understanding with Koramco to sell its New Core and Kim`s Club outlets in Kangnam - one of the most lucrative outlet stores in E-land Corp. - for 380 billion won($408 million) to cover their serious deficit. On the other hand, they attempted to open a new outlet in Pohang and Sindorim to avoiding financial crisis by an offensive expansion policy.
However, the proceeds from selling Kim's Club outlet have not arrived yet, and the attempts to open a new branch in Pohang and Sindorim had to face strong boycott movements from union and the regional population. Last year, E-land employers borrowed \800 billion($900 million) from banks, so they are suffering from interest payments as well. Of course we cannot tell how long they can maintain this critical status, but who can say that they are not getting closer to the critical point?
Again we need to arm ourselves with strong and determined will!
Undoubtedly, E-land employers draw hope from the election of the new president, Lee Myong-bak, who dares to say that the "E-land case is due to the union's illegal action". But their attitude in negotiation and dismissal of 33 unionists is only the one side. The President-elect can bolster their confidence, but he cannot relieve the serious crisis they are facing.
Some commentators are saying that E-land employers would merge E-land and New Core Corp. and then carry out an initial public offering(IPO) to avoid financial crisis. But this measure cannot be realized unless strikers give in to employers and the boycott movement fades out. The stability of management and profits for more than 3 years is required for an IPO in Korean capitalist system; in other words, E-land employers must destroy union organization before trying an IPO.
Therefore, the strategy of E-land employers is dividing strikers and leading to self-destruction "as soon as possible". They are pretending to be all right and enforcing dismissal, but it is further evidence that they have not much time. They have to terminate this struggle ASAP. What they fear most is ; "We strikers can even go further for another several months! You cannot erase our fighting will by dismissal or anything!"
This struggle started with the irregular workers bill made by the Roh Moo-hyun government and is now faced with the new government which is more hostile to workers. But we believe that the E-land workers' struggle shows the way the Korean working class should fight under the far-right government. If the E-land strike wins victory, it will renew working class confidence and provide fuel to break the repression policy which the new government will soon carry out. Therefore we must organize more solidarity and boycott movement for the victory of E-land struggle.
Obviously it is not division but unity that militants should choose. Militants should do everything to wage this struggle unrelentingly. If we can, we will experience again the dynamic situation where thousands of voluntary casual workers come to help shut down E-land stores as they did last summer, in the early weeks of this struggle.
"We have many hard days ahead but we will persevere! Go on as you wish!"
"Those who should make concessions are not us, but the employers! We will take it to the limit!"