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Park to push labor reform as top priority

President Park Geun-hye is seeking the parliamentary endorsement of a set of bills meant to reform South Korea's labor sector within this year, Cheong Wa Dae officials said Sunday.

The presidential officials described the issue as Park's top priority, citing concerns that bills could go nowhere next year when South Koreans go to the polls to elect new lawmakers and the current parliamentary term is set to end.

Park appears likely to make her case again during this week's Cabinet meeting for the parliamentary passage of the labor bills.

The move came about three months after labor, management and the government produced a landmark deal to ease labor restrictions.

The deal would allow companies, among other things, to dismiss workers who are either negligent or underperforming.

An Chong-bum, the senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, told reporters Sunday that the labor bills must be passed within this year along with other bills to reduce uncertainty in the labor market and to revitalize South Korea's economy.

Earlier in the day, presidential chief of staff Lee Byung-kee held a meeting with senior presidential secretaries and discussed how to win the parliamentary blessing for the bills.

The urgency of the labor reform has apparently put a Cabinet shake-up on the back burner for the time being.

There was speculation that Park may carry out a Cabinet reshuffle early this week, but the presidential officials said Park is focused on how to pass a set of labor and other bills.

Still, a Cabinet shake-up could not be delayed for a long time as some Cabinet ministers are likely to quit their jobs to run for next year's parliamentary elections.

Under the law, public officials seeking parliamentary seats are required to resign before Jan. 13, three months ahead of the elections. (Yonhap)
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