The Korea Herald


Tripartite commission set to decide next year's hourly minimum wage

By Yonhap

Published : July 18, 2023 - 11:37

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This photo shows a meeting of the Minimum Wage Commission held in Sejong on Thursday. (Yonhap) This photo shows a meeting of the Minimum Wage Commission held in Sejong on Thursday. (Yonhap)

A tripartite commission representing business, labor and the general public was set to meet Tuesday to determine next year's hourly minimum wage amid speculation about whether it would break the 10,000-won mark for the first time.

The 27-member Minimum Wage Commission, composed of nine representatives each from the three sectors, was scheduled to hold a plenary session at 3 p.m. at the government complex in the central city of Sejong.

The commission is expected to come up with a decision Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

The labor side had initially proposed 12,210 won ($9.70) as the 2024 minimum wage in a 26.9 percent increase from this year's 9,620 won, citing rising inflation, while the business side had suggested a freeze.

Through rounds of negotiations, the labor and business sides have brought down their proposals for the 2024 minimum wage to 10,620 won and 9,785 won, respectively, narrowing the gap from the initial 2,590 won down to 835 won.

The commission is expected to hold a vote to determine the minimum wage level for 2024 as the labor and the business sides remain sharply divided and are widely seen as unable to reach a decision through agreement.

A key point of attention is whether the 2024 minimum wage would surpass the 10,000-won threshold for the first time.

The minimum wage rose by 10.9 percent to 8,350 won in 2019, 2.87 percent to 8,590 won in 2020, 1.5 percent to 8,720 won in 2021, 5.05 percent to 9,160 won in 2022 and 5 percent to 9,620 won this year.

An increase of 3.95 percent or more would bring the minimum wage for next year over 10,000 won.

This year's minimum wage negotiations will go down as the most protracted talks since 2007, when the current wage determination system was introduced.

The previous record was in 2016, when the commission took 108 days to set the minimum wage. Tuesday marks the 109th day since the labor minister made an official request on March 31 for the commission's review of next year's minimum wage.

By law, the commission is required to present the new minimum wage to the labor minister, who is then required to announce it publicly.

Both sides can object to the agreement, and subject to the minister's approval, request a reevaluation by the commission. However, a reevaluation has never occurred since the minimum wage system was introduced in 1988.

The new wage, if determined, will take effect Jan. 1, 2024. (Yonhap)