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Official says employment situation reflected in 2019 minimum wage decision

2018/07/14 10:16

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SEJONG, July 14 (Yonhap) -- The chief of South Korea's minimum wage panel said Saturday that the country's employment situation was reflected in its decision on the 2019 minimum wage.

After marathon discussions, the Minimum Wage Council decided to set the minimum wage for next year at 8,350 won (US$7.37) per hour, up 10.9 percent from this year. Ryu Jang-soo, the chairman of Minimum Wage Commission under the labor ministry, said the members had to consider the employment situation in the country.

"We considered that (employment) can't be improved in a short period of time in this situation," Ryu said in a press conference after the minimum wage meeting at the government complex in Sejong, south of Seoul. "We made the decision after considering the nation's economy, employment situation and low-wage workers' wage hike."

   Both labor and business communities were not satisfied with the decision. The representatives for labor have demanded a 43 percent increase to 10,790 won, while those from the business side have called for a freeze. The council members representing management even boycotted the meeting.

"In terms of public interest, we also had to consider not only low-wage workers but also the country's economy," he said. "Based on all those things, we thought it was appropriate to have that amount of a hike."

   After the council's decision, a group representing small-business owners called for a "moratorium," saying it would not follow the decision and would pay workers based on their own contracts. They also warned that a price hike is inevitable with the increase in labor costs.

Ryu said the council understands the difficulties of small-business owners and will come up with measures to help them.

"We'll submit a plan for small-business owners to the government and will actively request support," he said. "For our decision, we heavily recognized the difficulties of small-business owners, and we tried to find ways that low-wage workers and small-business owners can live together."

  

Ryu Jang-soo, the chairman of Minimum Wage Commission under the labor ministry, speaks at a press conference to talk about the minimum wage for 2019 at the government complex in Sejong, south of Seoul, on July 14, 2018. (Yonhap) Ryu Jang-soo, the chairman of Minimum Wage Commission under the labor ministry, speaks at a press conference to talk about the minimum wage for 2019 at the government complex in Sejong, south of Seoul, on July 14, 2018. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

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