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Intensifying Tensions over Irregular Workers

Posted April. 22, 2005 23:33,   


The Environment and Labor Committee (ELC) is expected to hold a subcommittee meeting on April 25 to review the labor market reform bills. However, both the ruling and opposition parties, with the exception of the Democratic Labor Party, are responding cautiously. The tensions between the labor and the management are intensifying over sensitive issues such as the principle of “same wage for the same labor.”

The ELC plans to meet leaders from the labor, the management, and the government to coordinate the differences in opinion on April 24 before the scheduled subcommittee meeting. It concluded that the agreement on the bills between labor and management is the first consideration. Reportedly, the leaders have met four times but failed to reach compromise.

On April 22, Lee Mok-hee, the ruling Uri party chairman of the fifth policy coordination committee, said to a reporter over the phone, “I cannot disclose the specifics of negotiation process. It seems difficult but possible to narrow differences, as the labor responds with flexibility.” He added, “We will try a package settlement to cover all the issues at once.”

The Grand National Party decided to also take part in the review process. However, it sees some problems with the government’s proposals. Bae Do-il, a representative and senior secretary of the ELC, said, “The government’s proposal cannot resolve either the issue of the discrimination that irregular workers face or the issue of labor market’s flexibility.” “The party’s stance is that the market should decide employment, layoffs, and the labor environment,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Labor Party supports the National Human Rights Committee’s guidelines and calls for a more stringent regulation on non-permanent workers as well as the “same wage for same labor” principle.

Yeon-Wook Jung jyw11@donga.com