Even though labor and management held a 15-hour marathon talk all night, they failed to setting a minimum wage for next year.
The Minimum Wage Council tried to locate a point of compromise on next year’s minimum wage plans proposed by both parties, but ended in failure in the morning of July 8. The council consists of 27 members: nine representatives each of labor, management, and labor experts.
At the latest council meeting starting in the evening of July 7, management representatives proposed that the minimum wage be 5,715 won, while those of labor suggested 8,100 won.
As the representatives of labor and management failed to roll out a compromise, labor experts proposed that next year’s minimum wage should increase by 6.5 percent to 9.7 percent, prompting labor representatives to walk out of the talks in protest at around 5:30 a.m. today.
Although the meeting is expected to be held once again in this evening, their agreement on the minimum wage is uncertain due to strong opposition from labor representatives.
The labor representatives said that single-digit growth in the minimum wage suggested by the labor experts was contrary to the “fast-paced” hike in the minimum wage to boost consumer spending and economic growth, which was supported by Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan.
In contrast, the Korea Employers Federation has claimed that the minimum wage has risen too rapidly, voicing concerns over possible job losses and soaring production costs.
The Minimum Wage Council meeting was arranged as part of efforts to accelerate negotiations, after labor and management had continued to clash over the extent of the wage increase. Labor unions initially demanded between 5,580 won (US$4.99) to 10,000 won (US$8.81), a 79 percent hike from the current minimum hourly wage, while management has tried to freeze it. But after the negotiations failed to meet the legal deadline on June 29, both sides came to present revised proposals to secure a deal through additional talks.