[EDITORIALS]Overstepping its authorityThe nation’s business organizations yesterday harshly criticized the guidelines in the National Action Plan for Human Rights by the National Human Rights Commission.
The business bodies claimed that the suggestions were idealistic and would cause confusion if adopted by the government because public opinion had not been solicited. The concerns of the business organizations are understandable. The commission has called for unprecedented measures such as the equal treatment of regular and non-regular workers and the lifting of civil and criminal liability for labor strikes. The recommendations faced strong opposition from several government institutions such as the Labor Ministry and business organizations such as the Federation of Korean Industries, which complain that their opinions were not sought.
Detailed solutions should be prepared after a social consensus is obtained. Labor unions, companies and the government are negotiating ways to resolve the issue, and the National Assembly is also making progress in related bills.
But the guidelines of the commission are contrary to the intent of bills that aim at protecting non-regular workers and are currently under discussion at the National Assembly. The bills would mandate that management not discriminate against temporary or part-time employees, but the Human Rights Commission recommends that any type of workers with the same workload should receive the same treatment. If employees are given the same wages, working hours and welfare benefits, there is no difference between non-regular and regular workers. Ending the government’s authority to intervene in labor conflicts also contradicts the roadmap written by the administration and ruling party through consultation.
The bills on non-regular workers and the roadmap are the core labor issues on which management, labor and political parties are nearing agreement after long-standing disputes. The abrupt intervention of the commission has sparked new controversy. Back in April, the commission faced complaints from the administration and the governing party when it recommended that the law to protect temporary workers be revised because it was insufficient to prevent discrimination against them.
The commission has the authority to discuss the human rights of non-regular workers. But it is not right for the body to interfere in matters under debate and offer comprehensive solutions. Labor-management issues should be dealt with by the parties directly.