Holding the KEF accountable

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Holding the KEF accountable


The Ministry of Employment and Labor finalized the minimum wage for next year yesterday The hourly wage decided through a free vote of labor and management representatives at the Minimum Wage Committee is 7,530 won ($6.70). The Korea Employers Federation (KEF) complained that its too high, but the Ministry says that the complaint is unreasonable.

Why does the Ministry of Employment and Labor dismiss the complaint? The Korea Employers Federation has the answer.

The KEF holds the position of administrator for the representatives in the Minimum Wage Committee.

The users proposed 7,300 won as the final plan, nearly 1,000 won or 12.8 percent higher than the current minimum wage. It is the largest increase in history. It is merely 230 won less than the final decision.

So, the Ministry feels that the complaint is meaningless. Many view the KEF’s appeal as only a pretentious gesture, pretending to represent the dissatisfied members.

What the KEF needs to do now is not take credit but provide grounds and reasons for the highest increase in history. It is a courtesy to the employers that pay enormous membership fees and the small and medium-sized businesses expected to face challenges.

One PR representative for a large company said, “I don’t know how they got 7,300 won and what the grounds are to assume that companies would bear the increased wage level.”

However, the Korea Employers Federation only issued a one-page statement after the decision was made. “Responsibility for all problems that arise in the future should be taken by public members who made the irresponsible decision and the labor circle that holds selfish struggles.”

It is a typical tactic of passing the blame. The KEF has no sense of accountability as a responsible entity deciding minimum wage.

Naturally, Chonbang, which made a major contribution in founding the KEF, wants to withdraw. Chonbang is the first member and the founding chair of the KEF. Its presence is symbolic. However, the KEF does not respond. Chonbang chairman Cho Gyu-ok said that the KEF is incompetent.

The Korea Employers Federation needs to provide a more sincere response than its appeal to the government. It should confess what grounds it had used to propose the highest minimum wage increase in history and work with employers to minimize impacts. If the KEF continues to neglect its duties, its status as a social dialogue partner could be jeopardized.
I hope the management does not give up its oversight of labor policies.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 4, Page 29

*The author is a senior employment and labor news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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