[EDITORIALS]Disallow delays on billThe reform of the irregular workers’ bill failed again yesterday as the Democratic Labor Party occupied the venue for a meeting held by the Environment & Labor Committee and a subcommittee of Judiciary and Legislation under the National Assembly, on grounds that the bill was not satisfactory.
This is the fourth time the Labor Party has exercised physical force regarding the bill on temporary workers, having also done so in June last year and twice this year. Occupying a meeting room just because their opinion is not accepted absolutely goes against the principle of democracy. Under democracy, when parties fail to reach agreement, they should put the bill to the vote.
The number of non-regular workers has grown an average of 800,000 annually since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, to reach an estimated 5.5 million last year. The tally accounts for 37 percent of the nation’s workforce. The increase of temporary workers has also contributed to worsening social polarization. Such workers earn only 63 percent of the wages regular workers make and have no means to file a complaint against any unfair layoff.
For this reason the workers, government and private companies have tried to come up with measures to protect such workers since 2001. Their differences in opinion have narrowed to a large degree after several rounds of discussion and the related bill was submitted to the National Assembly in November 2004. If the bill is passed, non-regular workers will see their rights and interests enhanced much more than before: temporary workers who have worked for a specific company for over two years will be given a formal employment contract.
Despite this, the Labor Party is hampering the passage of the bill, arguing that they do not like some clauses. The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions is also threatening to go on a general strike. If the National Assembly accepts the demands of the Labor Party and the confederation, 3.6 million non-regular workers will be discharged from their workplaces because most will be ineligible for non-regular jobs. The Labor Party may not know this reality.
The more the bill’s passage is delayed, the less likely it is to protect the nation’s non-regular workers.
The Grand National Party and the ruling Uri Party are urged to pass the bill by persuading the Labor Party. If that does not work, they should invoke the right of the National Assembly to ban entrance to the hall or expel those who hinder normal operations.