Is this an equal opportunity?On the Blue House citizen bulletin board, six petitions separately ask the government to retract the plan to put security personnel at Incheon Airport on the permanent payroll. The petitions question the principle of equality when hundreds of students are building up spec to apply for the public corporation operating the country’s main gateway if the permanent job quota is given away to existing staff. Incheon Airport Corporation announced on Monday that it will convert 1,902 security officers to “permanently” hired police. The number exceeds the full 1,400 count currently on the corporation’s permanent payroll.
Incheon Airport Corp. has become a kind of symbol of the Moon Jae-in government’s zero-irregular work policy. The site was the first place Moon went to after inauguration in May 2017 and declared the plan to change all irregular workers to a permanent status in the public sector. The then-CEO had vowed to complete the conversion of 10,000 employees within the year. The plan did not pan out as hoped. After three-year-long internal negotiation, the corporation finally reported to the government of making the hires through umbrella companies.
Shifting to more a secure job status is important to enhance quality of work. But that should not be done at the expense of taking away opportunities for others. Incheon Airport is expected to end the year with its first-ever deficit due to a standstill in international travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. Its bottom line will worsen if labor costs soar.
Moon in his inauguration speech said justice comes from equality in opportunities not results. If young people feel they are being ripped off due to reduced openings, they will not be motivated to work for their future. Fewer will have faith in the president’s concept of justice if legitimate procedures are ignored to fulfill campaign goals.
Public entities who shifted contract workers to permanent status ran into controversies in the process of obliging with the government order. The Seoul Metropolitan Subway was found to have given-away permanent jobs to relatives of existing staff. Korea Highway, which is sitting on debt of 28 trillion won ($23.3 billion), spent an extra 60 billion won to covert the positions’ of 6,500 toll collectors.
In executing the conversion, Incheon Airport Corp. must be fair and transparent. The current CEO must not repeat the mistakes of his predecessor.