S. Korean civic groups call for minimum wage hike in 2014

May 9, 2013 1:21 am 

SEOUL, May 8 — As an annual process to set South Korea's minimum wage has just begun, labor and civic groups on Wednesday called for a hike to the base pay, saying the increase is necessary to ensure the basic living standards of workers.

A coalition of 32 labor and civic organizations demanded the South Korean government to raise the minimum wage in 2014 to 5,910 won (US$ 5.43) per hour from the current 4,860 won per hour.

The demand comes as the Minimum Wage Council, a government panel in charge of deciding the minimum wage, is currently in the process of reviewing proposals for the hourly minimum wage for 2014 and is expected to make a decision by the end of next month.

The panel, composed of labor and management experts, held its first meeting in April, marking the start of a divisive process that usually sparks a heated debate between the two groups.

"The minimum wage applied this year is 4,860 per hour, which means that the monthly salary of a person who works eight hours a day is only 1 million won, far less than the minimum cost of living for a four-member household of 1.5 million won," the coalition said in a statement read during a press conference in Seoul.

"The current hourly minimum wage does not reflect a soaring price and does not provide the fair share needed by the workers," the group argued.

South Korea has set the minimum wage every year since 1988 to help support low-income earners. Employers who fail to comply with the mandatory rule face up to three years in prison or 20 million won in fines. (PNA/Yonhap)

PDS/SSC

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