The Korean government’s labor reform plan lost its direction after the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) declared its withdrawal from the September 15 Tripartite Agreement on January 19. Nevertheless, the government is adhering to its plan for an easier dismissal of employees and an easier change in the rules of employment, mentioning that these measures are indispensable for job creation for the youth and a more flexible labor market. Needless to say, the labor community is dead set against the measures.
Under the circumstances, the Hartz reform is emerging as a solution. During the course of the Hartz reform in Germany, experts drew up a draft for labor reform and then the draft was implemented after employers and employees failed to reach an agreement on it within a certain period of time.
At present, the Ministry of Employment & Labor is planning to carry out its plan within this year, in spite of its confrontation with the labor community, by completing the legislative and administrative procedures required for it. In this context, the ministry is looking to implement the two measures as soon as possible after collecting the opinions of the public in general as well as the interested parties and discussing the issue with workers and employers. The two measures, which are administrative guidelines, can be put into effect irrespective of the passage of the five labor reform bills in question. When it comes to the other four bills except for that covering the two measures, the ministry is doing everything it can do so that they can pass the National Assembly during the extraordinary session of this month.
Some experts are currently expressing concerns over a reform led by the government, though. “The government can maintain the legitimacy of its plan only when the reform complies with the idea of the agreement,” said Kwon Hyuk, professor at the law school of Pusan National University, adding, “It should refrain from bulldozing because it can affect the other pending labor issues as well.” With regard to this point, the ministry recently said that its reform would be based strictly on the agreement.