|▲ Kim Ju-young, President of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions(FKTU) meets with Kim Myung-hwan, President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions(KCTU) to discuss major pending issues like the expansion of the flexible working hours system at KCTU's headquarters in Jeong-dong Neighbourhood, Seoul on November 9. (Jeong Ki-hoon/The Labor Today)|
The government and the ruling and opposition parties on November 5 agreed to amend the flexible working hours system to expand the unit period(currently not exceeding three months). The Environment and Labor Committee of the National Assembly requested the Economic, Social and Labor Council(ESLC), a new social dialogue body scheduled to launch on November 22 to initiate a social dialogue for the necessary legislative change. The labor circle on the other hand determined to resist the serious challenge to attempt to expand the flexible working hours system in solidarity and cooperation.
According to the labor circle and the National Assembly on November 11, Rep. Kim Hack-yong of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party who chairs the Environment and Labor Committee of the National Assembly made a request to the Economic, Social and Labor Council(ESLC) to convene a meeting to discuss the issues related to the expansion of the unit period of the flexible working hours system. Rep. Kim on November 9 sent an official document to the ESLC requesting that "prior to the deliberation on the amendment of the flexible working hours system by the National Assembly, the ESLC established for the purpose of consulting on employment and labor policies expedites to come up with a social consensus between economic and social agents like workers and employers and the government regarding the expansion of the flexible working hours."
It seems that the government and the political circle are pushing ahead with the application of a more expanded unit period of the flexible working hours driven by the offenses of continuous economic downturn and aggravated employment indicators, following the minimum wage hike last year.
Rep. Kim Sung-tae, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party said that "the three political parties will wait for the discussion regarding the flexible working hours system at the ESLC by November 20 and enter into the concrete actions to pass the amendment bill regarding the (expanded) flexible working hours system within this year." However, Rep. Kim Hack-yong did not mention a concrete deadline in his request to the ESLC.
However, as the Federation of Korean Trade Unions(FKTU) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions(KCTU) which are two of core social dialogue partners in the ESLC strongly oppose the expansion of the flexible working hours system, the social dialogue is anticipated to face formidable difficulties.
FKTU President Kim Ju-young visited the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions(KCTU) and had a meeting with KCTU President Kim Myung-hwan. He denounced the agreement on the expansion of the flexible working hours system reached by the ruling and opposition parties "a flagrant breach of the Labor Standards Act."
reported by Lee Eun-young
translated by Kim Sung-jin
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