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Five-day workweek in offing

Posted October. 23, 2000 09:27,   


Representatives to the Tripartite Commission of workers, employers and government met in a full-dress session Monday and agreed to limit working hours to 2,000 a year with some reservations as early as possible, the group has announced. Reservations will take into account the line of business and the size of workplace. Labor Ministry officials said sizable workplaces should begin to introduce a 5-day workweek at the outset of 2002 and the system will spread to other places step by step. A bill to be submitted by the government to the National Assembly for amending the Labor Standards Law within the year calls for cutting down 44 work hours a week to 40 hours, they said. The tripartite advisory body reached the accord on a 5-day workweek legislation for the first time.

According to the grouping's officials, with the reservations in place a large workplace for 300-500 employees would be required to adopt the 5-day workweek schedule while small or mid-sized industrial establishments or enterprises in distress like textile plants would be allowed some deferment, thus giving them time to adjust to gradual shift to the new system. The reduced workweek is certain to improve the quality of life for Korean workers who have been obliged to work the longest hours (average annual work hours of 2,497) of all members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. The Federation of Trade Unions issued a statement it has misgivings about the draft plan that will slash wages and shorten holidays and annual leaves in the course of the proposed gradual application in consideration of the business line and size of a plant. It went on to demand the government to come up with a 5-day workweek bill which would not deteriorate working conditions.