Saturday, July 30, 2011

Minimum Wage Council sets 2012 minimum wage per hour

At its 13th meeting held from July 12 at 8 p.m. until July 13 at 1:58 a.m., the Minimum Wage Council (Chairman Park Joon-sung) deliberated on the minimum wage applicable in 2012, and set it at 4,580 won an hour, up 260 won or 6.0%from 4,320 won an hour in 2011.

Next year's hourly minimum wage works out to 957,220 won a month for those working 40 hours a week (209 hours a month).

When deliberating and deciding on the minimum wage this time, the Council gave priority to stabilizing the livelihoods of low-paid workers. For instance, the increase rate was set at a higher level than the previous year's 5.1% considering this year's high price increase.

It also took into account micro, small and medium enterprises' ability to pay wages, including the fact that the proportion of enterprises paying less than this year's minimum wage reached 11.5%.

Unlike previous years, both labor and management submitted almost no minimum wage proposals during this year's deliberation process. So the public interest members suggested a range of minimum wages to promote their negotiation and discussion, and urged both sides to negotiate. But they failed to narrow the difference in their positions.

With the statutory deadline (Jun. 29) having passed, the public interest members made their first proposal on July 1 at the request of both labor and management. For all this, things didn't go smoothly as employers' and workers' members resigned or walked out of negotiations.

The Council could not deliberate and decide on the minimum wage at its 10th, 11th and 12th meetings because it lacked a quorum to make decisions.

At the 12th meeting on July 6, the public interest members requested labor and management to submit their final proposal within the suggested range in a week's time, and decided that the minimum wage would be set via a vote on such proposal.

Accordingly, at its 13th meeting, the Council voted on the final proposal made by the employers' members and favored increasing the minimum wage to 4,580 won an hour.

In relation to the setting of next year's minimum wage, Park Joon-sung, the Chairman of the Minimum Wage Council, said, "It is very unfortunate that despite labor and management's best efforts to agree on next year's minimum wage, the Council had to determine the minimum wage by ballot with some members absent from the meeting. However, delaying the decision any further is not socially desirable given the enormous social impacts of the minimum wage system. I hope the minimum wage will be confirmed and announced soon so that low-paid workers can benefit from it."

The Minimum Wage Council will submit the 2012 minimum wage decided upon by it to the Minister of Employment and Labor, who will announce it upon receipt.

The Minister will give workers' and employers' representatives at least ten days to raise objections to the announced minimum wage. After that, he will finally confirm and announce the minimum wage applicable in 2012 by August 5. 

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