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Health minister nominee vows to give 8,000 contract workers regular status

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Published : 2017-07-17 18:53
Updated : 2017-07-17 18:56

Park Neung-hoo, the nominee to head the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said Monday that he would give some 8,000 contract workers at ministry-run organizations full-time and permanent employment status, if he is appointed. 

Park Neung-hoo (Yonhap)

In response to questions by lawmakers of the National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee, Park said “irregular positions are linked to many social problems such as unstable labor conditions, discrimination and a low birth rate.”

“I will strive for a smooth transition, following the Labor Ministry’s guideline, which is to be released later this year,” he said.

According to the ministry, there are some 8,000 irregular workers at 22 ministry-affiliated organizations such as the Korea Health Industry Development Institute. 

Labor Ministry data submitted last year showed that at least seven of the 22 were failing to keep the proportion of irregular workers at 5 percent or lower.

Those in violation of the regulation include the Korea Disabled People’s Development Institute, which hired all 43 of its new employees last year as irregulars, filling 52 percent of the entire job positions with contract workers. 

The health minister-nominee’s pledge is in line with President Moon Jae-in’s campaign for “zero irregular workers” in the public sector. 

Also on Monday, the Seoul Metropolitan Government released a detailed plan to give full-time, permanent employment status to 2,442 long-term contract workers at eleven city-run companies. 

“Seoul City will continue to correct the unfair working conditions and treatment of contract workers, whose job responsibilities and workload are almost similar to that of regular workers, but whose salaries are much less,” said Park during a briefing Monday.

The city government also vowed to guarantee some 15,000 short-term workers at municipal organizations receive a minimum hourly wage of 9,000 won ($7.90) per hour by 2018 and 10,000 won per hour by 2019. 

Earlier this year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government set the minimum hourly wage for those positions at 8,197 won, 1,727 won higher than the state-set level of 6,470 won, to help workers bear the cost of living in the capital. 

Seoul ranked the sixth-most expensive city worldwide, according to Mercer’s latest cost of living survey released earlier this month. 

Since March 2012, the city government has changed the status of 9,098 workers under unlimited term contracts into regular positions.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)