[EDITORIALS]A case of poor implementationThe implementation of the five-day workweek on July 1 is only a week away. Big businesses with over 1,000 employees and all public institutes are included in the plan. Since the purpose of adopting a shorter workweek lies in improving workers’ quality of life and increasing their productivity by providing more time to rest, the social effect of the new system will be significant.
It is important that the public sector play the leading role in settling the policy. It is necessary that the government, which has control over the budget and personnel management of the public sector, prepares for the implementation thoroughly. However, the preparations are in a regrettable state. For the shorter workweek system, extra manpower is needed and financial support must be secured. Although the law stipulating the 40-hour workweek passed the National Assembly in August last year, the government didn’t take the necessary follow-up measures.
Strikes at hospitals, which lasted 13 days before being ended yesterday, caused enormous suffering for patients. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the government because, to implement the five-day workweek at hospitals, it was necessary to increase manpower and adjust medicare fees rates to cope with the decrease in the number of outpatients when hospitals close on Saturdays. Labor and management pointed out the problems as soon as the law was passed and appealed to the government to take action, but their request was not met.
Major public sector unions warn of large-scale strikes if the demand for a five-day workweek with no change in current working conditions is not met. But the government, without securing the budget for extra manpower, demands that the public sector reduce non-working days and refund wages for non-working days. Thus, it is likely that labor’s summer struggle will be a long and wasteful one over public sector issues. The government itself is hurting the stabiliity of labor relations. How can it ask businesses to implement the five-day workweek?
The government has said the five-day workweek will improve the qualify of people’s lives. If there is no increase in the workforce, however, the intensity of labor will increase. The government should admit its mistakes and produce a remedy.