Labor unions on Friday demanded a 28.6 percent increase in the minimum wage next year, from the current 5,210 won ($5.03) per hour, officials said.
The Minimum Wage Council, which consists of representatives of the government, labor unions and business, held the first meeting on Friday to set new minimum wage standard by June 29. The Ministry of Labor is scheduled to confirm next year’s minimum wage on Aug. 5.
Labor-side delegates said in the meeting that they sought to increase the minimum wage to 6,700 won per hour after taking various factors into consideration, such as inflation, the economic growth rate and workers’ opinions.
“The current minimum wage is closer to being ‘the maximum wage’ (in many cases)” said members of the nation’s two major umbrella unions — Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and Federation of Korean Trade Unions.
“Raising the pay level will be the key to solving income inequality and problems arising from cheap labor,” they added.
According to the KCTU’s survey of low-paid workers in carried out from September to January, the respondents said they wanted an average minimum wage of 6,878 won per hour.
In a separate survey by the Youth Community Union, workers aged 15-39 hoped for an increase to 7,489 won per hour.
Last year, the trilateral council agreed to set the minimum wage at 5,210 won per hour for 2014, up about 7 percent from the previous year.
This year’s hourly pay translates into 41,680 won a day for people who work eight hours a day and 1.08 million won a month for those who work 40 hours a week.
By Suk Gee-hyun