[EDITORIALS]Temps have rights, too

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[EDITORIALS]Temps have rights, too

Talks between employers and labor representatives failed to reach a compromise over the planned legislation to guarantee rights for temporary workers with short-term contracts, and the deadline for negotiation ended yesterday. The government and the Uri Party said they would go ahead with the bill at the National Assembly before the end of this session. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, one of Korea’s two umbrella unions, announced that it would stage a general strike starting today.
We believe that a vote on the bill must no longer be delayed. The general strike is also extremely undesirable in this situation.
As the negotiations broke off yesterday, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, another umbrella union, proposed a final compromise plan, making some concessions. The business community as well as the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions both rejected the plan. It appears that a smooth settlement will be difficult. Therefore, the National Assembly should make a decision by deliberating the bill proposed by the government.
How to harmonize the job security of temporary workers with workforce flexibility is the critical issue, and the management and labor communities have reached agreements on significant parts, excluding some issues.
It is also possible that shortcomings can be modified once the legislation takes effect. The labor unions of permanent contract workers have contributed to low wages and discriminated against temporary workers by acting inflexibly. Thus, the labor unions should submit to some kind of sacrifice as well.
Labor, management and government representatives have held talks since 2001 to support the rights of temporary workers, but the legislation has been delayed, as the negotiations fell off repeatedly. Meanwhile, the number of temporary workers increased and discrimination against them worsened. Taking account of the desperate situation of the nation’s 8.5 million temporary workers, the legislation cannot afford any further delay. Considering the local government elections next year and presidential elections the year after, it is unlikely that the legislation will be adopted in the future ― if not now.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions’ general strike is illegal and its justification is unconvincing. Only 52 percent of its members participated in the vote on the strike, and influential member unions such as those of Hyundai and Kia Motors rejected the plan.
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