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Minimum Wage Set at W4,110 per Hour Next Year

Posted July. 01, 2009 04:57,   


The minimum wage for next year will be 4,110 won (3.23 U.S. dollars) per hour, up 2.75 percent from this year’s after a contentious negotiation process.

The Minimum Wage Council yesterday approved the amount as suggested by members of a public interest panel in a vote of its general assembly.

Thus, someone who works 40 hours a week, or 209 hours per month, will see his or her pay increase from 836,000 won (657 dollars) to 858,990 won (675 dollars), while a person who works 44 hours, or 226 hours per month, will get a raise from 904,000 won (710 dollars) to 928,860 won (730 dollars).

The hike of 2.75 percent is the smallest annual rise since 2.7 percent in 1998, when Korea was reeling from the Asian currency crisis.

Labor had demanded a hike of 28.7 percent to 5,150 won (four dollars), but management wanted a cut of 5.8 percent to 3,770 won (2.96 dollars). Labor circles also demanded assurance of workers’ livelihoods amid the economic crisis, while the business community sought wage cuts due to job security fears. The two sides proposed revised figures on 13 occasions in a prolonged negotiation process.

Since the two sides failed to hammer out differences by midnight Monday, the deadline for the submission of the minimum wage guideline to the Labor Ministry, the council held a vote to pass the bill proposed by the members of the public interest panel. The council said, “Though the wage has been fixed through a vote, it can be construed as having been reached through an agreement since all members representing labor, management and the public interest panel participated.”

The council predicted that 2.57 million people, up from this year’s 2.09 million, will benefit from the revised minimum wage, though the hike is relatively smaller.

“Though the hike is lower, the number of beneficiaries has increased since the aggregate amount of wages declined this year due to the economic crisis,” it said.

Council Chairman Moon Hyeong-nam said, “We`ve had trouble adjusting the minimum wage since the business community, which expressed fear over the burden on companies, was engaged in an intense dispute with labor, which worried about the livelihoods of low-income workers."

"We were able to reach a decision through proactive efforts by council members, with labor and management proposing more than 10 revision bills.”

Labor Minister Lee Young-hee will authorize the minimum wage for next year and announce it Aug. 5 after a period for receiving complaints about the wage.