KCTU decries 8,590 won minimum wage deal

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KCTU decries 8,590 won minimum wage deal

A major umbrella labor union group said Monday its representatives will resign from the minimum wage panel in protest of last week’s decision to increase the wage by the slowest pace in a decade.

The Minimum Wage Commission, involving labor and business representatives and experts, set the minimum wage at 8,590 won ($7.32) per hour for next year Friday, up 2.9 percent from this year.

The decision was a far cry from an initial demand of 10,000 won by labor, a level that President Moon Jae-in vowed to attain by 2020.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), a militant labor group, said it will withdraw its four members from the wage panel and called on all experts to step down as well.

“Our action attested to the protest against the unfairness [in setting the minimum wage] and also stringent self-reflection and heavy responsibility [for the decision],” the KCTU told a press briefing.

“Nine experts who wrongfully led the wage discussions should also resign,” the group said.

The council has 27 members, nine each from the labor, business and public sectors. The Federation of Korean Trade Unions, another umbrella labor group, has five panel members.

The labor sector angrily reacted to the 2020 wage decision, claiming that a failure to keep Moon’s promise means the government has ditched its income-driven growth policy.

President Moon offered a public apology Sunday for an apparent failure to keep his campaign pledge to raise Korea’s minimum wage to 10,000 won per hour by 2020.

Moon delivered the message through his chief of staff for policy, Kim Sang-jo.

“As the president, it’s very regrettable and I am sorry for failing to keep the promise with the people,” Moon was quoted as saying.

Last week, a related panel of labor and business representatives and experts voted to raise the wage floor 2.9 percent to 8,590 won for next year. For 2019, it increased the wage 10.9 percent from the previous year.

The growth rate, the lowest in a decade, means it has become almost impossible for Moon to achieve his policy goal of lifting the minimum to 10,000 won by the target year.

In a press briefing, Kim cited Moon as saying it has become impossible to attain the goal “within the three years.”

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