[EDITORIALS]A realistic labor bill is needed

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[EDITORIALS]A realistic labor bill is needed

Labor, management and the government are on a collision course over the issue of irregular workers.
Negotiations between the Assembly and the Tripartite Committee had been smooth until the National Human Rights Commission came up with the opinion that the principle of “same labor, same wage” should be stated clearly. Labor is putting pressure on the government and the governing party, threatening a general strike if the government forces the law through the Assembly disregarding the commission’s guideline.
Against this, the heads of five economy-related organizations called a joint press conference for the first time in 12 years and expressed concern over whether the reform forces, represented by the human rights commission, are launching an all-out war against business, joining hands with labor.
Due to the collision of labor and management, passage of the irregular worker bill looks uncertain. If the law fails to pass the Assembly, this year’s collective bargaining on wage increases will suffer confusion amid a general strike. The enactment of an irregular worker bill could even be postponed indefinitely. Considering the difficult situation of contract workers, it is very gloomy news.
The issue should be solved through dialogue and compromise. Emphasizing human rights and putting weight on egalitarianism can create major obstacles in negotiations. The principle of same wage, same labor has been recognized since 1919, when the International Labor Charter adopted it. But it is an ideal, applicable when the labor market is free of regulation and the free movement of labor is guaranteed.
Low wages and discrimination against irregular workers can be attributed to the inflexibility of unions in big businesses. It is not appropriate for them to evade responsibility and try to pass the buck to government and management, insisting on the principle of same labor, same wage.
The bill’s fate will be decided after a working-level meeting among members of the Tripartitie Committee and the Assembly on Sunday and deliberation by the Assembly’s Environment and Labor Committee on Monday.
Both labor and management should make a last ditch effort to strike a deal within the framework of the government draft. Don’t insist on idealism, but consider the hard reality of employment.
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