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Gyeonggi to pay higher wages to irregular workers

Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung said his regional government will pay irregular workers higher wages than full-time employees.

The governor said in a Facebook post Thursday that the provincial government will introduce a new bonus system, roughly translated into job insecurity bonus, for employees with a short-term, fixed contract.

“If doing the same work, who should we give out higher wages? Workers with stable employment status or unstable ones?” Lee wrote, arguing that it will be double discrimination to pay lower wages to contract workers with a higher level of job insecurity.

Gyeonggi Province said that it has officially instituted the new wage system last week and the system will go into effect next year. Countries like France have a similar wage system, an official said.

Some 2,094 irregular workers directly employed by Gyeonggi Province and its public agencies will benefit, taking home wages that are about 10 percent higher than their current level.

An opposition politician expressed support of Lee’s policy. In a Facebook post Thursday, Rep. Yoon Hee-suk of the United Future Party called the move “praiseworthy” for eliminating discrimination against contract workers.

She said Lee’s move could help employers rethink hiring contract workers for cheaper labor costs while allowing workers a freedom of choice between stable employment with less financial benefits and unstable employment with greater profit.

“I hope Gov. Lee Jae-myung’s experiment turns out smoothly and allows Gyeonggi Province to set up a best practice in eliminating discrimination against irregular workers,” Yoon wrote.

“I also hope this is an opportunity to break the two-level system of our country’s labor market.”

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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