A wrong solution

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A wrong solution

Public anger toward a plan to convert all security personnel at Incheon International Airport to permanent payroll is deepening. Even the general public — mostly spirants for jobs at public enterprises — have joined the chorus of criticism. The plan also triggered strong protest from existing staff at the airport authority.

The Blue House will have to reply to the online petition on its website as it has drawn more than 200,000 e-signatures in three days since the first posting asking the government to stop the zero-contract worker policy. A group studying for state law exams has even filed a petition to the National Human Rights Commission, claiming the airport authority has infringed on the principle of equality in employment. The union of the corporation also plans to file a separate suit with the Constitutional Court. Regular workers at other public corporations also issued statements in protest.

The plan is devoid of principle or fairness. Incheon International Airport Corporation is the top choice for job seekers in public enterprises. Many would have failed to get a job despite long preparation. It cannot be fair for temporary recruits to land permanent positions just for being at the right place at the right time. The conversion also cannot be fair for existing workers in the airport authority who had earned their status through longer service years.

The government and ruling party officials, however, remain heedless. Hwang Deok-soon, senior presidential secretary for jobs, said the plan can make more decent jobs for young people in the long haul. Chung Il-young, a lawmaker of the ruling party and former CEO of Incheon International Airport Corporation, questioned what was wrong with wishing to keep a job one does well permanently. (He had promised to promote 10,000 irregular workers when the president visited the workplace soon after his inauguration.)

Few would disapprove of the idea of making contract workers secure. But it is not right to give the chance away on luck. The policy is to make more secure job positions, not to extend the favor to a certain group of people. To increase permanent jobs, the eligibility must be laid out first with equal opportunities to the greater public. Existing contract workers instead could be given preferential points. If the corporation presses ahead with its plan merely to follow the orders from the president, it could face a serious backlash.

Hwang said the government cannot set the employment guideline for every 850 public enterprises. But his and the government’s job is to come up with policy action that can convince society. The ruling party must step in to help the government find a solution.

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