Fix irregular workers lawThe law to protect irregular workers took effect Sunday. The major rule is that an irregular worker who has worked at the same place for two years or more will automatically become a regular worker. The law is designed to help irregular workers, who are generally socially weak people, but the reality is not that simple.
Some companies, like Shinsegae and Woori Bank, are promoting their irregular workers to regular ones, but that is very rare. Most companies will prefer to fire irregular workers before they work there for two years rather than change them to regular workers. That is because if they become regular workers, the cost of labor will increase and managing the manpower will become more difficult.
There is a possibility companies will be reluctant to hire irregular workers at all because of the pressure to change them into regular workers after a certain period of time. Conflicts between labor and management will also increase. E-Land has decided to change some of its irregular workers into regular workers, causing a conflict with its labor union. Last month, a woman in her 30s tried to commit suicide because she was fired by the school she had been working for as an irregular worker.
It is hard to tell whether the law protects irregular workers or takes jobs away from them. The government and the National Assembly may have designed this law out of goodwill, but it will end up making the lives of irregular workers even harder. It is a pity since this result could have been predicted. After this law was approved late last year, problems in the law should have been fixed, but nothing was done. There are now 5.77 million irregular workers, or 37 percent of all employees. Irregular workers’ average monthly income is 1.27 million won ($1,370). Only 40 percent of irregular workers are covered by social insurance schemes, such as the national pension program or health insurance. It is our task to embrace them more effectively. The government must look into problems in the law and repair them.
The presidential hopefuls must stop presenting rosy pledges. Instead, they must think seriously about more realistic issues, such as irregular workers. Companies must find better ways to use irregular workers. It doesn’t help companies to fire irregular workers who have become skillful in their jobs. We should follow the advice from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and stop excessively protecting regular workers.