South Korea’s minimum wage under debate
South Korea’s labour and employers group are unable to agree over next year’s minimum wage levels, as labour representatives have called for a steep increase while employer groups insist on a minimal hike.
Labour groups cited increasing the minimum wage as a means to overcome the economic inequality exacerbated by the pandemic, but employer groups said that small merchants and the self-employed have already been badly affected by COVID-19.
South Korea’s Minimum Wage Commission (MWC) holds a plenary meeting annually to decide on the minimum wage levels for the following year. The decision has to be made before August 5, which is the legal deadline for the Ministry of Employment and Labor to deliver an official notice to the public, reports Yonhap.
In 2020, MWC set the current minimum hourly wage at 8,720 won (US$7.79), recording the smallest annual increase of 1.5% as the country was battling economic headwinds from the pandemic.
“The Moon Jae-in government has to keep its earlier promise to raise the minimum wage,” said Lee Dong-ho, secretary general of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU).
Lee was referring to the president’s campaign pledge to lift the minimum hourly wage to 10,000 won (US$8.94) during his term, which is set to end in May 2022.
“The FKTU will do its best to help stabilise the livelihoods of low-income workers in this year’s minimum wage negotiations,” Lee added.