[EDITORIALS]Holidays hurt competitivenessTaking a break and playing are different. Maintaining a sound mind and body through meaningful leisure time not only improves the competitiveness of an individual but also society as a whole. As the five-day workweek system is implemented, a new term, “Hue-tech,” (meaning good rest technology) has appeared. Hue in Chinese character means “rest.” People have become interested in the quality of rest.
In every aspect, the request to revise the holidays by the five major business organizations including the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Monday, is meaningful.
The groups want to nix National Foundation Day, together with Arbor and Constitution days, as national holidays. They also want to change the date of Children’s Day and Memorial Day to the first Mondays of May and June.
The suggestion is appropriate considering that Korea will introduce a 40-hour workweek starting in 2011.
Korea currently has about 10 national holidays a year, excluding holidays that overlap with Saturdays and Sundays. The number is close to that of the United States, England and Germany and exceeds the 8 days in France and the 7 days in Taiwan. It is inevitable to reduce two or three days of holidays to maintain the companies’ international competitiveness due to the five-day workweek system.
It is the right path to expand three- day breaks while reducing holidays in between.
According to a survey by the five major business organizations, 79.5 percent said production during working days that are stuck between holidays is low.
Considering the quality of rest and concentration at work, moving Children’s Day and Memorial Day to Monday is rational. In an industrial society, a holiday is nothing more than a day to wipe off a week’s fatigue.
In a knowledge-based industrial society, however, the concept of a holiday is changing to an opportunity to increase competitiveness through developing creativity. In fact, Bill Gates of Microsoft takes a week off twice a year and calls it “Think Week.” All major business strategies were made during ‘Think Week.’
Our society is at a point where the holiday system should be restructured. The government, labor unions and managers should find ways to improve the quality of holidays and heighten national competitiveness.