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Saenuri quickens public servants’ pension reform

Civil servants are threatening protests against the ruling Saenuri Party’s plan to pass a controversial overhaul of government employees’ pension in April’s extraordinary parliamentary session.

The ruling Saenuri Party said earlier this week it would push through the bill on changes to the civil servants’ pension scheme to reduce its deficit next month.

The party’s decision came days after about 1,000 families of policemen and firefighters joined the protests led by teachers and employees working for ministries and government agencies to oppose the plan that would delay the first payment of public pensions by pushing back the retirement age from the 60 to 65.

On Wednesday, Saenuri chairman Kim Moo-sung and floor leader Yoo Seong-min reiterated their intention to pass the bill by May 2, as agreed among the ruling party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy.

“If the nation maintains the current scheme, taxpayers will have to bear the burden of 484 trillion won ($440 billion) in the future,” Kim said.

Yoo urged the NPAD to unveil its suggestions on the bill as soon as possible, saying that the body created to find a compromise, composed of lawmakers, ministry officials and civil servant union leaders, has agreed to reach a tentative but detailed deal by April 28.

Later in the day, the nation’s biggest labor group, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, said in a statement that it would stage a protest. It said about 300 civic groups would join the rallies.

The KCTU, in particular, has already vowed to take the initiative in staging sit-in protests or going on general strike before politicians pass the bill.

While the union of civil servants claims the government is seeking to fill its budget deficit with money from the pockets from civil servants, ruling party lawmakers stress that the nation has to act to government debt from ballooning.

Meanwhile, the Saenuri party also clarified that it would pass the bill on mandating CCTV installation at all day care centers, aimed at preventing child abuse, in the April session.

It also plans to carry out coordination with opposition parties to seek ways to pass the motion on human rights conditions in North Korea in the coming parliamentary session.

By Kim Yon-se (