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(LEAD) PM warns against 'illicit walkout'

All News 16:16 January 26, 2016

(ATTEN:ADDS Kim Moo-sung's remarks at the last four paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- Prime Mister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Tuesday vowed to take stern measures against a walkout by a major labor organization.

The warning comes as the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), one of the country's two umbrella labor groups, was to go on an indefinite walkout in protest of the government's adoption of contentious labor guidelines.

"The KCTU's general strike is a clear illicit strike that goes against a difficult economic situation both home and abroad, crisis such as North Korea's nuclear test, and the hopes of young job seekers," Hwang said during a Cabinet meeting.

Last week, the Ministry of Labor and Employment announced that it will ease restrictions for employers to fire "noticeably" underperforming workers and allow companies to change employment rules more easily, as part of its reform drive.

The KCTU, which has more than half a million workers as its members, argues that the government's labor reform would end up making it easy for companies to fire workers, eventually worsening overall working conditions.

Hwang also said that the Ministry of Justice will bring criminal charges against those who stage illicit protests across the country.

Meanwhile, the ruling party leader Kim Moo-sung said earlier in the day the gap between the rich and the poor among laborers will be larger if the small number of "labor aristocrats" of the labor unions only seek to secure their own privileges.

Apparently criticizing the labor union's walkout, the Saenuri Party chairman said the government's ongoing labor reform is ultimately designed to reinforce fairness in Korean society overall, adding economic democratization without labor reform will turn out to be a failure in the long run.

In a congratulatory speech at a meeting of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kim said,
"The privileges and fowl games enjoyed by the labor aristocrats can be called the vested rights of the left-wing, if the privileges enjoyed by the business tycoons and large businesses are called the vested rights of the right-wing."

Kim said the KCTU is currently deceiving the people just to protect the vested interests of a small group of high-income workers, often called "nobles."


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