Seoul must apologize first

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Seoul must apologize first

The Seoul Metropolitan government strongly denied allegations of illicit hiring practices at Seoul Metro which is responsible for subways running across the capital, and attacked the opposition for making groundless charges. It threatened to file a lawsuit against the opposition camp after they exposed problems through their audit of the government in the National Assembly.

Seoul Metro has been suspected of nepotism as 108 among the 1,285 hires who got promotions earlier this year from long-term contracts to full-time positions were found to be family members of existing employees. At a press conference, Yoon Joon-byeong, first administrative deputy mayor, claimed that most of the allegations against Seoul Metro raised in a parliamentary hearing lacked clear evidence.

The city government argued against the suspicion of favoritism just because some of the upgraded employees were related to existing staff. It was downplaying the wrongdoings of the subway operator even as its HR executive intentionally dropped his wife’s name from the list of promoted staff.

The city government overseeing the subway operator should have apologized to citizens and hundreds of jobseekers who are outraged to learn of the public corporation’s hiring irregularities. The liberal government’s policy of upgrading the status of contract workers to the permanent payroll has contributed to lessening job opportunities for the general public — instead of increasing them.

The city government also added that it would press on with pro-labor policies to address discriminative hiring structure of the past. But before that, it must examine the undesired side effects of its policy. In the meantime, the Board of Audit and Inspection must investigate the city government as well as its integrity in oversight. It is not the time for the Seoul city government to insist on being righteous, but it is the time to get to the bottom of the malpractice and fix it.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 25, Page 30
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