Putting the pieces together

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Putting the pieces together


When a group of business lobbying groups released their response to President Moon Jae-in’s key economic policies, I found myself understanding what both sides had to say. It is not that I am easily convinced — it’s just that both contain their own truths.

Workplace and employment issues are not always simple. Yes, there are companies that exploit their workers and pay low wages, but there are also some that use contractors because they need a specific skill or because of operational considerations. Sometimes, a company can have both reasons. Some businesses employ not a single temporary worker and outsource a majority of their work because they are too small. The reality is complicated, but the government and businesses each hold a piece of the truth and claim it as whole. If they really want a solution, they should start by putting the pieces together. They need to be honest with each other and talk sincerely.

In that sense, the reluctance of business organizations is excessive. There are five business lobbying groups that conduct surveys on their members year-round and frequently ask for their opinions. That is why they exist. They are obliged to express their concerns to the government and make concessions and demands through discussion.

But instead, they belittled the published report as “personal opinion” and hid the fact that they had meetings. It is doubtful if they even have the will to increase the number of quality jobs.

When asked why they kept such a low profile, they argued that they didn’t want to be mistaken for standing against the government and keeping a distance.

Obviously, the businessmen don’t want to go against the government. The government has great authority. Businesses also haven’t received a sign that this administration is any different.

The government needs to be more progressive. The government has warned that companies need to pay a price for excessively hiring temporary workers, failing to expand jobs and failing to abide by minimum youth employment ratios. But the new administration’s initiatives are not very desirable, as forcible participation without support from companies will be ineffective and short-term.

As in previous administrations, companies and industries will use all possible measures to bring policy to their level once the government sets its direction. We have witnessed all kinds of expediencies that followed the rule that temporary workers be made permanent after two years. Healthy jobs that the government, management and labor all want cannot be created by turning away from one another and reiterating each’s own claims.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 2, Page 33

*The author is a reporter for the Joongang Ilbo.

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