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Management Report

Management reports, briefs issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

Korea's Road to Industrial Peace

Korea's Road to Industrial Peace

LEE Jeong-Il

May 2, 2005

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Korea's economy, hobbled by a slower than expected recovery, is failing to create enough jobs. In the first quarter of 2005, it generated just 142,000 jobs, far fewer than 400,000 the government promised to deliver by the end of this year. As most jobs are made available in the first quarter of the year, it now looks unlikely the government's goal could be achieved.

Against this backdrop, the rising number of temporary workers is aggravating labor-management relations. Since the financial crisis of 1997, their ranks have dramatically swollen. Their problem has been compounded by the fact that they are unequally treated compared to regular workers, worsening already bad labor-management relations. Today, this relationship is plagued by demands for legislative protection of temporary workers, legalization of multiple unions at a single workplace, and an upgrading of laws and regulations required for improving labor-management relations in general.

This means 2005 will mark a watershed in the evolution of Korea's labor-management relations. But the many issues related to industrial peace have been left pending and unresolved. They can no longer be postponed, though. In order to strengthen its international competitiveness, Korea needs to develop better industrial relations that are essential for economic and social stability. Below are some of the issues crying for resolution.

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