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Paradox of minimum wage

Posted November. 26, 2014 09:06,   


Starting next year, guards at apartment complexes will see their wages rise by about 19 percent, as 100 percent of the minimum wage is applied to them. When the poor employment standards for apartment guards, many of whom are senior citizens, became a social issue, the government revised law and increased their wages from 90 percent of minimum wage to 100 percent. However, the guards` livelihood is pushed to the verge of a crisis, as many employers announced massive layoffs.

Belatedly realizing the severity of the situation, the Ministry of Employment and Labor announced measures to improve guards` employment standards. Under the measures, the government plans to extend subsidies for employing senior citizens until 2017, covering 60,000 won (54 U.S. dollars) a month per each guard employed. Originally, the subsidy was to end at the end of this year.

However, the ministry has secured the budget enough to cover just about 3,000 guards. Of 250,000 guard workers across the country, more than 50,000 at ages 60 or older are expected to lose their jobs next year.

Shinhyundai Apartment in southern Seoul, where a guard committed suicide by setting himself on fire after he was humiliated by residents, has given pink slips to all of the 106 guards and cleaning workers. The apartment has also decided to replace its maintenance and security agency, sparking speculations over a possible "revenge" for the guard`s suicide that damaged its public image.

Many other apartments are moving to lay off their guards due to concerns over hikes in monthly maintenance fees caused by wage increases for guards.

The government plans to launch intensive examinations of the situation in the first quarter of next year to see if the maintenance and guard workers are suffering from labor standard violations. However, it is questionable how effective such action will be.

Recently, unfair treatment of apartment guards has become a social issue. The guard at Shinhyundai Apartment committed suicide on November 7 after he was humiliated by a resident. In Daegu, an apartment resident spat on a guard`s face and beat him, claiming that the worker`s parking lot management was unsatisfactory.

When the minimum wage is fully applied to guards, maintenance fees are expected to rise by 2,000 won to 3,000 won (1.8 to 3.7 dollars) a month for apartment complexes where one guard is employed per 100 households. We hope that people have a heart for their fellow citizens before resorting to law and the government.