Moon to meet big business reps for two days

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Moon to meet big business reps for two days

President Moon Jae-in will meet with the country’s top tycoons Thursday and Friday to discuss creating jobs and sharing business opportunities with smaller companies, the Blue House said Sunday.

According to presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun, Moon will meet with representatives of the countries’ 14 largest companies on Thursday and Friday. Of the 15 largest business groups, all except for Nonghyup or the National Agricultural Cooperative, will send representatives to the meeting. Ottogi, a mid-size food maker known for its efforts to create jobs and offer better working conditions, will also attend the event, Park said.

Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG, Lotte, Posco, GS, Hanwha, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Shinsegae, KT, Doosan, Hanjin and CJ groups are the top 14 conglomerates attending the events. The deputy prime minister for the economy, minister of trade, industry and energy and heads of the Fair Trade Commission and Financial Services Commission will attend from the government side.

The head of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry was also invited, a change from the past. The Federation of Korean Industries was normally invited to such events but that lobbying group was disgraced in the abuse of power and bribery scandal involving Moon’s predecessor Park Geun-hye, her confidante Choi Soon-sil and several major companies.

Although the food maker is not even a top 100 company by sales, it has been praised for its treatment of workers. “Only 1.16 percent of the firm’s workforce are contract or non-salaried workers as of the first quarter of this year, indicating its accomplishment in creating regular jobs,” a Blue House official said.

Regular workers are offered full benefits afforded by the country’s labor laws. Irregular workers have various forms of employment ranging from daily wage laborer to an office worker with a contract shorter than two years. A company is required to convert an irregular worker to a regular worker if he or she is employed for more than two years.

Moon advocates upgrading irregular workers to permanent employees. Last week, the government said it will upgrade more than 140,000 contract workers at 852 public institutions to full-time staff positions this year.

The 15 business leaders will be divided into two groups, and each group will attend a discussion session with the president, the Blue House said. Although it stressed that the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry will make the division and that the decision will be almost random, speculation grew about how the two groups will be categorized.

Being grouped with Ottogi will be interpreted as the Blue House being in support of those companies.

The Blue House also said the companies can decide whether their owners will attend the meeting or top management executives instead. Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee is currently sick and his heir Lee Jae-yong is standing trial in the corruption case that brought down former president Park. SK Chairman Chey Tae-won and Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin were also accused of having corrupt ties with the previous administration.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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