[EDITORIALS]No turning backAlthough the five-day workweek was adopted at some companies on July 1, the noise of conflict is still being heard at many others. The labor unions of some hospitals are planning to strike again on July 14, although the medical industry labor union reached an agreement with the hospitals’ management, and the union for subway workers will walk out on July 21. The five-day workweek system, whose purpose was to improve living standards and labor productivity by providing more time to relax and recharge, has become a tinderbox of conflicts.
The blame for the conflict goes to the government first because it drove the system through without considering the situation and without preparing enough. The 40-hour workweek bill was passed last August, but the government has not set aside enough funds and prepared measures to supplement the workforce for the public sector. The labor union of subway workers is demanding the hiring of about 7,000 more people, but management can only sigh. If it is too much to hire new workers because of subway finances, they should have at least retrained the existing workers to take on new jobs, but nothing was done.
The biweekly Saturday-off system at the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has also some blind points. Due to the lack of publicity, people have made trips in vain, and some city and county government offices have not set up work rules yet; officials have to work six days a week at those local governments.
Direct or indirect pressure on small and medium companies is also serious after the adoption of the five-day workweek at large companies. Smaller companies, already facing difficulties, may go bankrupt and the five-day workweek could result in less employment rather than more.
But we cannot abandon the five-day workweek now. Management and labor should pull themselves together. Labor should cooperate in improving productivity rather than demanding excessive wages.
When companies make profits, they will hire more workers and run the five-day workweek system properly. It would be a problem if the wages and working conditions some labor unions of large companie won are forced upon smaller companies.
Each company should make a prudent decision. There is no other way but that management and labor concede and cooperate.