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[2012] Mayor’s Speech

  • Restore common sense in labor

  • SMG 842
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    Announcement of the conversion of irregular jobs within Seoul Metropolitan Government to regular jobs

    Date: March 22, 2012
    Venue: Briefing Room, Seosomun Building, Seoul City Hall

    Dear Seoul citizens, today I would like to restore some common sense to the Seoul Metropolitan Government by taking the first step toward establishing a normal workplace where irregular employees receive equal treatment to regular workers for doing the same job, and capable workers are not fired simply for the fact that they are irregular employees.

    Starting May 1, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will convert its 1,054 irregular positions to regular positions. The irregular employees in these positions have been engaged in permanent and continuous tasks and will be hired as regular workers. In addition, in order to help prevent discrimination, workers in irregular positions that are not converted to regular ones will receive better benefits.

    Now, I will announce our plan for the transition of irregular to regular jobs within Seoul Metropolitan City.

    We have a total of six million irregular employees in our country, making up a significant proportion of the working population. They could be your parents, brothers and sisters, children, friends, or neighbors.

    Specifically, 34 percent of workers in Seoul are irregular, while in Korea, six million people—or 34.2 percent of the total workforce—are irregular workers. Among them, 1.08 million, or 31.6 percent, are young workers in their 20s. As such, a significant percentage of the young work force, which represents the future of our country, is entering society under uncertain and discriminating conditions.

    The greatest burden on irregular employees is uncertainty and discrimination. Knowing that one’s job could be terminated at any time creates constant stress. This is the harsh reality faced by irregular workers, half of which quit less than one year into their employment. They receive half the salary of regular workers for doing the same job, and are discriminated against in terms of bonuses, retirement benefits, national pension, and health insurance.

    An irregular job is a short-sighted option that ignores the importance of investing in human resources for the sake of reducing labor costs. This might generate higher short-term profits, but will decrease efficiency due to the lack of continuity and professionalism. Furthermore, insecure and inferior jobs have led some workers to fall into poverty, which in turn has increased the polarization of our society.

    The issue of irregular workers is not simply a labor issue, as its solution will lead to the greater integration of our society and promote sustainable growth.

    Now, the Seoul Metropolitan Government wants to restore common sense in labor. We hope to make Seoul a city where diligent citizens are applauded, and hard working men and women are rewarded with prosperity and happiness.

    We will hire regular employees to fill regular positions and perform regular tasks, thereby ensuring the happiness of our employees at their workplaces. Our investment in human resources will produce creative value added and ultimately lead to increased efficiency in our society. As such, starting May 1, Seoul Metropolitan City will begin designating 1,054 irregular workers who handle continuous, long-term tasks as regular workers. In order to keep the number of irregular jobs down, the positions that are being converted to regular ones will be filled by regular employees whenever there is any vacancy. And the irregular positions not being converted at this time will be provided better benefits, such as special bonuses on holidays.

    In the first phase of this transition, irregular employees who meet certain requirements will be designated as regular workers.

    For the second phase, which will be carried out in the second half of the year, we will prepare a measure to improve the benefits for irregular workers who are hired indirectly, such as privately commissioned jobs, dispatched jobs, and service jobs. Changes will also be made to the organizational system and pay scale for contractual employees with unlimited terms of employment. To support these measures, additional funding of KRW 6.23 billion will be allocated from the budget.

    Creating workplaces where most of the positions are staffed by regular employees is a human resource investment that will ultimately strengthen our economy and society, and Seoul Metropolitan City will set the example. We will take the lead, thereby encouraging other public institutions and the private sector to follow suit.

    Although our conversion measure may be belated, I believe it will go far toward relieving the long-term suffering and exhaustion of our irregular workers. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will become a pillar of support on which they can lean. Starting today, we have taken the first step in a long march toward restoring normalcy in our labor market. Completely solving the irregular job issue may be a long way off, but must still embark on the journey. Thank you.