The Korea Herald


Opposition leader calls for change in labor policy


Published : Sept. 8, 2011 - 19:26

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An opposition leader Thursday called on the government to focus its economic policies on improving working conditions and creating more jobs as part of efforts to move toward a welfare state.

“To become a fair welfare state, (the government) should change the policy focus to make a people-centered economy,” Rep. Sohn Hak-kyu of the main opposition Demo­cratic Party said at a speech in the National Assembly.

To accomplish such a goal, Sohn said his party will make efforts to reduce discrimination against temporary workers and other unfair workplace treatments based on academic background or gender.

“Our economy should focus on investment in people and break away from focusing too much on the market and construction projects,” Sohn said. “To achieve the goal, the issue of labor should be on the top policy priority.”

He also unveiled a set of measures to foster small and mid-size companies, such as stronger punishment for unfair business practices by conglomerates and safeguards for small businesses and various incentives.

“A more active government, which develops the national economy and protects people’s rights, will emerge as a government preferred over a small government that gives all to winners,” Sohn said.

His remarks were largely in line with President Lee Myung-bak’s calls for conglomerates to play bigger roles in creating jobs and helping small firms as part of efforts to reduce social inequality.

According to the 2010 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the ratio of temporary workers in South Korea to the total workforce stood at 21.3 percent last year, the fourth-highest among its member nations. 

(Yonhap News)