South Korean unions propose minimum wage rate

Labour representatives of the Minimum Wage Commission have proposed an hourly minimum wage of 10,890 won (US$8.4) for 2023.
By: | June 23, 2022

This figure represents an 18.9% increase over this year’s 9,160 won (US$7.1) and was revealed ahead of the commission’s plenary meeting.

The representatives said they came up with initial the figure after considering economic conditions at home and abroad, which they said demonstrate the necessity of the increase to prevent social polarisation. 

They said the poor and working classes are increasingly bearing the brunt of a worsening economy that faces the confluence of low growth and high inflation leading to stagflation. 

The representatives stressed that the minimum wage hike must be larger than the average increase in overall wages to ease wage inequality. The commission will determine next year’s level by narrowing the gap between what is proposed by labour and that by management. 

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Employers have described the figure proposed by labour as excessive. “The current minimum wage is 62% of the current median wage, the figure is already one of the highest in the world, and the minimum wage has risen by more than 40% for the past five years,” the Korea Enterprises Federation said, adding, “An 18.9% increase under the circumstances is like a death sentence on small firms and individual businesses,” according to Business Korea.