Fixing the loopholesAnother half-baked labor policy from the liberal administration is expected to add chaos to the business world still struggling from the side effects of a 16.4 percent hike in the minimum wage.
The legislature passed the government’s bill to reduce the maximum working hours per week from 68 to 52. The revised bill immediately threatens the livelihood of charter bus operators and bus drivers as an 11-hour break will become mandatory for all drivers regardless of their working hours, starting in September.
Charter buses are usually serviced for work and school commutes. When the new break time is imposed, a driver won’t be able to work in the morning if he or she had worked the evening before. That would nearly half their monthly paychecks. Bus companies cannot afford to recruit more drivers. In Gyeonggi, 13,592 chartered buses are registered, but there are only 12,009 drivers.
The required rest period for drivers of passenger vehicles is essential to prevent long-haul accidents on freeways. But chartered buses usually run short distances. The universal regulation will only raise fares and upset the transportation market.
The new work hours also worry manufacturers. The new rule did not amend flexible hour terms and only allowed maximum extra hours to three months a year. European and Japanese governments grant flextime for up to a year when work pours in. The United States does not impose a legal cap on working hours.
Korea Inc. cannot compete with Silicon Valley or the fast-rising technology hubs in China, where workers work through the night.
Innovation and invention requires nonstop work and devotion.
The government and ruling party must fix the loopholes and unrealistic areas in the new legislation in order to minimize confusion and damage in the fields of business and industry.