[EDITORIALS]Little time for reformBoth labor and business are complaining about the final proposal that an advisory committee on the government’s labor policies announced Sunday about ways of reforming laws and institutions on labor-management relations. Labor unions said that if the government attempted to revise the law on the basis of the proposal, they would fight it. On the other hand, business advocacy groups said that the proposal was biased in favor of labor. If such a conflict persists, the government’s plan to legislate the proposal during the first half of next year will come to naught.
The proposal was made to adjust the rules on relations between labor and management to global standards and to improve the flexibility of the domestic labor market. The ultimate purpose of the proposal is to strengthen the nation’s competitiveness. The proposal is an attempt to find a way out of the current situation in which the nation is called “the republic of labor strikes” and foreign companies and institutional investors are turning elsewhere. Labor and business should make their best efforts to reach an agreement for the sake of our common interests. But they are now refusing to discuss the matter with each other, and are busy in highlighting only the points unfavorable to their side. That is extremely irresponsible.
The proposal has some controversial points. One example is that a worker’s base pay, on which special allowances and overtime are computed, should include all regular bonuses and allowances. If that point goes into law, it would increase the wage burden on companies, which have a complicated wage system with more than 200 types of allowances. And the proposal that the unemployed should be allowed to join labor unions could, as business interests complain, nurture professional labor activists and spread an aggressive labor movement.
The proposal can be changed, so labor and management have to start talking in order to solve the problems in labor-management relations and the rigidity of our labor market, which is an obstacle to economic recovery. The two sides must decide whether to survive or fall together, and they have little time.