|▲ Rep. Hong Young-pyo of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea who currently chairs the Environment and Labor Committee of the National Assembly delivers his keynote speech as a guest of speaker at a meeting organized by the Korea Tripartite Forum on September 11 in Yeouido,Seoul.(photo by Kim Hak-tae/The Korea Daily Labor News)|
Rep. Hong Young-pyo said that "if the revision of the Labor Standards Act to cut the working hours will not be passed within the plenary session of the National Assembly this year, the administrative interpretation on the working hours issued by the Ministry of Employment and Labor shall be rescinded in early next year". He also added that "the reform of wage system should be promoted to change the current seniority-based(or 'hobong' in Korean) wage system".
Rep. Hong pointed out a simple but contentious problem concerning the definition of a week that the administrative interpretation of the Ministry of Employment and Labor sees a week as 5 days. He argued that the solution to reduce the excessive annual working hours in Korea is to define that a week is 7 days, clarified through the revision of the Labor Standards Act.
He further elaborated the efforts made by his committee for a soft landing to mitigate the shocks to be caused by the immediate implementation when the law is revised, as it was projected that a range of 1.3 million to 3 million workers will be affected by the revised law. In March this year, the Labor Subcommittee has concurred with the definition of a week as 7 days and the maximum 52 working hours a week which shall include 12 hours of extended work and the two-step phase-out approach in accordance with the size of the enterprises, but it failed due to the differences in the phase out approach newly raised by the main opposition Korea Liberty Party.
The Labor Subcommittee(Bill Deliberation Subcommittee) sat together to renegotiate the differences in the phase-out approach and came close to an agreement to the three-step approach instead of the two-step, but differences remained acute on the matters of the concrete implementation time schedule and the exemption provision to allow special extended work, which blocked further discussions at the National Assembly.
The Korea Tripartite Forum is a non-governmental organization which comprises voluntary members(many of them are retired) from labor, employers, government and academia in the field of labor.
reported by Kim Hak-tae
translated by Kim Sung-jin
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