[EDITORIALS]Don't hurry workweekClosure is near for the installation of the five-day workweek. However, several concerned parties are still up in arms over final touches to the bill.
The government announced that it will soon present the final draft of the bill to the National Assembly after wrapping up the issue at a cabinet meeting. Two umbrella labor unions in Korea said they will go on a general strike unless the five-day workweek is put into force in every workplace within three years. Five leading business organizations, which represent employers, declared that they cannot accept the bill in its present form. The five organizations argue that the bill fails to take into consideration the positions of the business community and demand the government think it over so that the bill can "be up to international standards."
We reiterate our position: We cannot understand why the government tries so hard to force the enactment of the bill, while causing unnecessary friction in the process. We assume that the government may feel that if it puts the brakes on the initiative that it cultivated during the past two years through many negotiations, even what has been achieved so far can turn into nothing.
Labor and management, before criticizing the government, must also look back at their own behavior, because they have changed their minds many times.
The five-day workweek, as it is for other policies, cannot be successful if it is implemented in a makeshift form while conflict and friction remain among those involved. Just patching up things will endanger even implementation of the new workweek. The same thing happened when the government forced medical reform: The government now seems to have lost the original goal of that reform.
Although the government claims much discussion took place about how many work hours should be reduced, it is questionable whether the Korea Employers Federation or the Federation of Korean Trade Union can truly represent the interests of the wide variety of concerned parties. The golden rule is: Do not hurry initiatives or polices that could burden the new administration. Now is not the right time for the initiative that will reduce work hours.