Go to contents

Civil Servants Fear Massive Layoffs

Posted December. 20, 2008 02:02,   


“I didn’t expect that many people would be laid off. I think more people will be laid off than in 1994, when the Finance Ministry was merged with the Economic Planning Board,” worried an official at the Finance and Economy Ministry. “I am worried because my evaluation results last year were disappointing.”

“A major change in government offices will begin this weekend,” said an official at the Fair Trade Commission. “It’s depressing to think about packing my stuff. I guess it will be difficult to focus on work for a while.”

The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) said on Tuesday that it had virtually completed its blueprint for government reorganization. The MOGAHA recently brief its finalized plan after consulting with each ministry.

What is left now is to layoff unnecessary public servants and relocate the remaining workers. A tsunami of restructuring is now about to hit officialdom.

Ministries, which will absorb other ministries, have increased influence, but they are subject to dramatic downsizing.

The Ministry of Homeland and Maritime Affairs (MOHMA), which will be formed by integrating the Ministry of Construction and Transportation (MOCT) and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF), will have a total of 6,400 employees prior to layoff. However, in line with the measure of “one percent reduction in staff for every 50 regulations, some 600 of them are expected to lose their jobs in the MOHMA alone. The MOHMA is expected to see the most number of layoffs of all the ministries.

The MOCT rebuffed the MOGAHA’s layoff plan, stressing that many regulations are necessary and that it will suffer a disadvantage in indiscriminate layoffs. The MOGAHA, however, refutes this claim.

The Ministry of Planning and Finance, which will be created by merging the Ministry of Finance and Economy with the Ministry of Planning and Budget, will also have to cut 200 employees. Two deputy ministerial posts will be combined to one and many senior posts, especially director level or higher, will be dramatically reduced.

Most of the ministries, which will be retained without being merged into others, are not subject to extensive staff cuts. However, the Ministry of Unification will be forced to lay off some 30 percent of its staff. The number of public servants working for headquarters, excluding government affiliated organizations, will also be trimmed down from 290 to 210. Reasons for the reduction have yet to be announced. Government employees feel deeply uneasy because little is known about the criteria for laying off staff.

With regard to government reorganization, there are specific criteria for reducing the number of employees whose duties overlap. But specific criteria for selecting employees to be laid off have yet to be established.

Although some argue that competence and performance evaluations should be used as a criterion, others strongly opposed it, saying staff cuts should be made in superfluous offices first. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy will receive voluntary resignations from its employees approaching their retirement age and dispatch support personnel to provincial authorities and industrial complexes.

A vacuum in government is inevitable as it takes more than two weeks for the new ministers to assume their duties once sworn in.

Once the government restructuring bill is approved by the cabinet, either on Wednesday or Thursday, ministries will start moving to their newly designated offices beginning this weekend. However, the relocation is likely to take a considerable amount of time since ministries moving in and out will need to coordinate their moves.

It will also take a significant period for ministries to make actual personnel changes, even once criteria for layoffs have been established. Many expect personal changes to be completed by mid-March or later because changes will first be made from the top officials down to the rank-and-file.

The deputy minister of the MOCIE is expected to be appointed before Mar. 3, but personal changes for director-level posts or lower are expected to be completed by the end of March when MOCIE Minister-designate Lee Yun-ho fully takes charge of the ministry.