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Park calls on Saenuri to push for labor reform

 President Park Geun-hye urged Saenuri Party lawmakers to take the lead in forwarding her labor reform initiative at a luncheon for ruling party lawmakers Wednesday, calling the task a shared duty for future generations.

During the gathering at Cheong Wa Dae, Park thanked the lawmakers for passing a reform bill on the civil service pension system in May, but asked them to push ahead with another set of reform bills during the upcoming regular session that kicks off on Tuesday. 

President Park Geun-hye walks in to a luncheon for Saenuri Party lawmakers with National Security Office chief Kim Kwan-jin (right), party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung (second from right) and floor leader Rep. Won Yoo-chul at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
President Park Geun-hye walks in to a luncheon for Saenuri Party lawmakers with National Security Office chief Kim Kwan-jin (right), party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung (second from right) and floor leader Rep. Won Yoo-chul at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. (Yonhap)


Park’s rare invitation was seen as an attempt to restore ties with the party and to bring her reform drive back on track after a breakthrough in inter-Korean ties. This was the second such luncheon to be hosted by Park since her inauguration.

Relations between Cheong Wa Dae and the governing party had been sour and climaxed last month when Park rebuked the party for failing to support her policies, effectively demanding the resignation of then-floor leader Rep. Yoo Seong-min. Yoo stepped down several days later, as the party scurried to mend ties with the president.

Yoo was also present at Wednesday’s luncheon.

Park wants to reform the nation’s four major sectors -- public service, labor, education and finance -- in a three-year economic plan that began last year. Observers say that she may feel under pressure as she has already passed the midway point of her single, five-year term, which ends in early 2018.

The president has been reiterating that the reform plan should be completed within this year as politicians’ attention shifts to next year’s general election.

“Now we have a big task called labor reform,” she said. “I ask you to lead the way to solve this issue for the economy and for future generations.”

Park said earlier this month that she had put labor reform at the top of her state agenda, and that she would aggressively push for flexibility in the labor market. The Park administration sees the local job market as overprotective of employees and discouraging for companies to hire more.

The remark was delivered on the same day that Federation of Korean Trade Unions, a labor umbrella group, announced its return to a tripartite committee. The panel, which consists of three representatives from labor, government and business, is expected to soon resume its stalled negotiations on a compromise on contentious labor issues.

As soon as the representatives reach an agreement, rival parties are expected to lock horns over the bill. 

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)

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