[EDITORIALS]Workweek bill full of perilsNegotiations between labor and management on the five-day workweek have broken down despite mediation by the Labor and Environment Committee of the National Assembly. The issues creating the gap are whether a decrease in the allowance for leaves should be made up with a pay increase, management’s push to reduce the number of annual vacation days and the timing of the implementation of the new guidelines.
The Korea Employers Federation has urged the government and the Assembly to pass the bill, but the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions have threatened a nationwide strike if the government bill passes the Assembly. The ruling and opposition parties have staked out different positions on this issue, and some say premature.
The Labor and Environment Committee says that a sub-committee hearing will be held on Tuesday, and the bill will be passed on Wednesday. Although there are difficulties, the five-day workweek should be enacted soon. While the debate on the issue has dragged on for more than three years, the five-day week is being implemented rapidly, mainly by big businesses. If the decision is left to labor-management negotiations at individual workshops, hardline unions will demand, as was seen at Hyundai Motor, more days off with no cut in wages or even a pay increase. The five-day workweek should not be introduced without an adjustment in the number of holidays and leave.
The Kia Motor union is trying to implement the same system adopted by Hyundai Motor. One hundred union shops that are part of the organization representing metal workers under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions are going to make demands identical to those Hyundai Motor dealt with.
The government bill should be revised. Members of the panel representing labor, management and government have consulted with unions and management to draft the proposal. The government has attempted to shield the economy from harm. When there is conflict of interest between labor and management, the Assembly should mediate.