Finance minister vows measures for small businesses over minimum wage hike
Published : Jul 16, 2017 - 11:26
Updated : Jul 16, 2017 - 11:26
South Korea's top economic policy chief said Sunday the government will promptly come up with measures to relieve smaller businesses of the burden from a decision to hike the minimum wage for next year.

A panel representing the government, labor and management decided Saturday to raise the minimum hourly wage to 7,530 won ($6.64) for 2018, up 16.4 percent from this year. It is the highest on-year increase after a 16.6 percent hike in 2000. 


"The decision will be a huge momentum for an income-led growth, but it could put a heavy burden on small business owners," Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said during a meeting with economy-related ministers, vowing to promptly come up with measures for small and mid-sized business operators.

Earlier in the day, major corporate lobbies expressed concerns that the increase could worsen business conditions and hamper job creation.

"It was a decision that ignored small and mid-sized businesses which are already suffering from harsh economic conditions," an official at the Korea Employers Federation said.

"The minimum wage hike doesn't really have a direct influence on big business groups, but such a rapid hike could be regarded a signal that the current administration is siding with the labor circle more than with the business community," an official working at a local conglomerate said.

While the decision was largely seen as a victory for the labor circle, local union organizations also expressed disappointment, saying the amount still falls short of their demand.

The labor circles first proposed 10,000 won, or a 54.6-percent hike on year, while the management representatives suggested 6,625 won, a 2.4 percent increase. Their final proposals were modified to

7,530 won and 7,300 won, respectively, following government representatives' arbitration.

President Moon Jae-in has promised to increase the minimum wage to 10,000 won per hour before his five-year term ends in May 2022. (Yonhap)