balance game

▲ Attorney Choi Jong-yeon (law office worker)

A movie called “Drive My Car” is quietly at the box office. This film, which won the Best Screenplay award at the 74th Cannes Film Festival, shows the process of preparing the play ‘Mister Vanya’, while Sonya’s monologue ‘What can I do, I have to live! Let us endure patiently the trials that fate sends us. (…) Then politely accept death and let it be said in the afterlife. How much we suffered.” The part is presented and concluded quietly.

I felt sorry for my spouse who was moved by watching the movie together, but the reality is close to a miserable ‘balance game’, and I smiled bitterly at the thought that I could only endure it. The balance game is a game in which you have to choose one of the extreme or dilemmatic options, such as ‘Living with an affair versus living with an affair and setting a house on fire’. And if you think about it, the moments of choice that workers face in labor disputes are often the balance game itself. Consider ‘to make money by enduring bullying in the workplace vs. reporting to the Labor Office and being bullied’.

Recently, there has been a case of ‘being an honorable KCTU union member and subject to criminal prosecution for embezzlement and breach of trust in business’. There were only two KCTU union members at an environmental company in the southwestern part of Seoul, and they committed embezzlement and misconduct on the job, causing damage to the company and the ward office by collecting food waste bins even though they did not have enough collection certificates attached to them. It was said that he had received a drink or meat from him. After receiving dozens of stern complaints, the president called the cleaners and persuaded them, “If you leave the KCTU and join the corporate union, the complaint will be withdrawn.” In the end, it was decided not to appeal.

If you work hard and conscientiously, you can keep your job and aim for success at work, but undoubtedly, the risk of work-related accidents and diseases increases. Even if an employer bans overtime, he worked from home to complete a given task, but there is no evidence that it is often disregarded as working time. It is a job with a high burden of being sued at any time, but it is not recognized as a ‘work with a lot of mental tension’ because it is likely that you have adapted to it after working for a long time. For several years, I tried to endure the verbal abuse and sexual harassment of my superiors, but my superiors did not change, and in the end, I could not stand the pain and hang myself in front of the company. In the case of work-related accidents, funeral expenses can be paid in advance, but work-related diseases are not.

A balance game gives the illusion of being able to exercise a choice somewhere, but in reality it is just a dilemma that makes it difficult to choose either one. It has been over a year since a lawsuit was filed recently to be recognized as an official medical treatment for a postman’s brain hemorrhage. The postman used his personal leave after getting burns while blocking the delivery motorcycle from falling on a slope. The Seoul Administrative Court judged that the above hospitalization period should be excluded and recognized the average working hours per week as 50 hours. In the above case, if the postman left the motorcycle toppled and was warned and returned to normal work, I wondered if it would have been approved during the official medical treatment application stage, but it was meaningless. Rather, lawsuits and court decisions put an end to this damn game of balance.

As in ‘Uncle Vanya’, the reality is too harsh to endure ‘patiently the ordeal that fate sends us.’ Fair pay also has the effect of lowering the economic benefits of using non-regular workers, but adding balance to the dilemma is a dilemma, so it must reach the level of destroying the ‘balance’.

In the end, in a situation where a balance game is forced, you have to get angry and fight the game itself. This year, I wish for good results for both the lawsuits pending at the Supreme Court for a long time and the lawsuits against workers who were dismissed for COVID-19.

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