[EDITORIALS]Banking on a good exampleWoori Bank will convert 3,100 non-regular workers to regular employee status. The company will get rid of the discrimination in benefits between regular employees and non-regular workers, and gradually raise wages of non-regular workers to the level of regular workers. Taking into consideration that the bank’s wage burdens will climb, the labor union agreed to freeze wages for existing regular employees. Until now, there have been cases where certain non-regular workers were converted to regular-employee status, but never like now when all non-regular workers were transferred to regular workers.
It is good news that the labor union for the regular employees is embracing non-regular workers at its own expense. Woori Bank has provided the initiative to solve the problems regarding non-regular workers, who are the weak in our society. An already established fact, the rapid increase in the numbers of non-regular workers, (5,460,000, or 36 percent of all workers) since the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 has created problems in our society, such as worsening polarization. In many cases, companies employ non-regular workers in order to cut down on wage costs even if the positions were for regular employees. Even if they were working side-by-side at the bank teller window doing the same job, regular and non-regular workers’ wages and benefits could be two times different.
However, increasing the number of non-regular workers is not the best for companies’ futures. Although they may be reducing immediate labor costs, they also lose teamwork within the organization and experience side effects, such as the neglect of customer service. If a window teller or call center employee causes a problem, it can be very bad. Also, according to the non-regular worker bill, changing skilled non-regular workers every two years is a loss for the company, too. The people are watching Woori Bank’s experiment with interest. We hope the labor union will keep its initial spirit and share the pain of reducing costs.
The management of the company should remember that it is a bank that holds public funds and try to tighten its belt as much as possible.
If the labor union shows signs of boasting or attempts to seek its own benefits, or says management “saved” non-regular workers, it would be better off that they did not do this at all. Woori Bank’s transition of non-regular workers to regular workers must go well so their example can spread to other financial circles and the entire economy.