South Korean business leaders and experts on Thursday criticized the government's labor-friendly policies, calling them unnecessary regulations both for companies and workers.
In a seminar hosted by the Korea Employers Federation, company executives and academics said the government's approach to improving wages and working conditions for the well-being of laborers does not reflect reality in the markets.
Responding to Deputy Finance Minister Koh Hyeong-gwon's briefing on the government's overall economic policies for this year, Kim Kang-sik, who teaches business administration at Korea Aerospace University, said the latest increase in minimum wages is "the most unnecessary of regulations" in the labor market.
"Starting this year, the government has raised minimum wages, but the move drove up the burden on companies, with some opting for fewer workers to survive rising labor costs," Kim said at the seminar in downtown Seoul.
He argued that the government's plan to use taxpayers' money to resolve this unexpected situation is not the right way.
South Korea's minimum wage rose by 16 percent to 7,530 won
(US$7) on Jan. 1, the biggest jump in about two decades. The hike has sparked backlash from small and medium-sized firms and mom and pop stores that can ill afford the extra outlay.
Song Ho-geun, a sociology professor at Seoul National University, called on the government to gradually revise labor policies to minimize the impact on businesses.
"In a country with a population of over 10 million, it is really hard to achieve three key goals -- growth, employment and welfare programs -- at the same time. The government appears to seek employment and welfare programs while ignoring growth," Song said.
Others asked the government to listen to business leaders to resolve a series of pending issues in the labor market and seek win-win synergy between companies and their employees. (Yonhap)