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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Oct. 23)

All News 07:11 October 23, 2018

Let's fix unfair recruitment

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who has been under fire for employment irregularities at several organizations affiliated with the city, countered attacks from the main opposition Liberal Korea Party (LKP) on Monday. He questioned how hard the former conservative government and LKP as the ruling party worked to solve part-time workers' woes. As he said, the opposition did little. Still, that does not excuse the problems at the institutions under his jurisdiction.

Park claimed that the LKP was attacking his policy of converting contract workers into full-timers when it criticized the Seoul Metro's case. But when the Seoul Metro changed the status of 1,285 part-timers who were hired on a long-term contract to full-timers in March, as many as 109 family members of the employees at the public institution enjoyed the benefits. That is not excusable.

As the Incheon International Airport Corporation prepared to change the status of 10,000 contract workers, an executive of an affiliated company recruited four of his nephews on an irregular basis in an obvious attempt to capitalize on the promotion. There are other bizarre cases at public corporations. The government's ambitious policy to leave no employee with an irregular job has been abused by unions to stretch their power. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) has been demanding Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) turn 2,750 engineers at its partner company into full-time employees. Korea Expressway Corporation is under pressure to convert 6,000 workers at toll stations to permanent status, a number that would exceed the current payroll of the corporation.

The irregular workforce that has ballooned to make up more than 30 percent of Korean wage-earners has long been underpaid and suffered discrimination. President Moon Jae-in vowed to take away their underprivileged status but the push has caused a number of unintended consequences. Jobseekers have been dejected to learn of widespread corrupt practices at public institutions at the expense of their opportunities. The doors have become narrower because the positions went to family members of existing employees.

The Seoul mayor should develop a responsible solution instead of criticizing the opposition. The ruling party should probe hiring irregularities if it does not want to make enemies with young people.

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