The Minimum Wage Commission decided Saturday to raise next year's minimum wage by 10.9 percent to 8,350 won ($ 7.37) per hour after an overnight meeting boycotted by business representatives. It will be the first time the country's minimum wage has surpassed the 8,000-won mark.
This year's minimum wage is 7,530 won per hour, up 16.4 percent from a year ago -- the biggest hike in nearly two decades.
President Moon Jae-in has vowed to increase the threshold to 10,000 won by 2020 to achieve income-led growth.
Saturday's decision sparked angry reactions from both labor groups and businesses.
"We hope both management and labor will give consent to the difficult decision," Rep. Park Kyung-mee, a ruling party spokesperson, said in a statement, noting that there have been sharp protests from businesses, such as convenience stores, as well as complaints from labor groups.
"There can't be a Solomon's solution that can satisfy both the management side that calls for a freeze and the labor side that calls for a hike of at least 15 percent," she said. The fact that the decision is not satisfactory to either side means the two parties can accept it if they both back down, she said.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party, however, called for the government to reconsider the minimum wage decision, claiming the raise will deepen the economic difficulties of ordinary people by hurting the country's growth engine and reducing jobs.
"The minimum wage has risen a whopping 29.1 percent over just two years," Rep. Yoon Young-seok, a party spokesman, said in a statement. "This is a result of efforts to forcefully fit it into the president's campaign promise to raise the minimum wage to at least 10,000 won by 2020."
Yoon called for the government to abandon Moon's "income-led growth" policy and adjust the president's campaign promise, and reconsider the minimum wage hike in consideration of the economic situation, employment conditions and other factors.
"Jobs are disappearing rapidly due to the hike in the minimum wage. The income-led policy is causing prices to rise, and it even raises the possibility of stagflation, where economic stagnation and inflation take place at the same time," the spokesman said.
He also urged President Moon to face up to the reality, slow down the minimum wage raise and come up with measures to help self-employed and small business owners through their difficulties. (Yonhap)