Kaesong companies are told to maintain wagesThe South Korean government advised companies operating at the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex to keep their monthly minimum wage for North Korean workers at $70.35, its latest move to affirm that it will not accept Pyongyang’s unilateral demand for a pay increase.
On Thursday, the Unification Ministry, in charge of inter-Korean relations, said that it had notified 124 South Korean companies running factory lines in the border city of Kaesong not to raise the minimum wage, as demanded by North Korea.
Pyongyang unilaterally notified Seoul in February it would raise the monthly minimum wage by 5.18 percent, to $74 from the current $70.35, which South Korea argues is in violation of the joint agreement for operating the complex that calls for issues to be discussed and worked out by both sides.
South Korean officials have also said the 5.18 percent increase is beyond the 5 percent ceiling the two sides agreed upon in the 2013 agreement on managing the venture park.
The ministry warned that the companies would be subject to administrative punishment if they raised the minimum wage without approval.
However, a senior government official did not rule out the possibility that the minimum wage could be increased, but only if both sides came to the negotiating table.
“Our position is to solve problems [concerning the Kaesong complex] through consultation based on management principles. We can reach a consensus on issues like a wage hike based on the principle of discussing these issues bilaterally,” said the official, who requested anonymity.
BY KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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