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S. Korea to maintain criteria for setting minimum wage

June 26, 2019 - 21:50 By Yonhap

The Minimum Wage Council decided on Wednesday not to consider employers' ability to pay salaries in setting the minimum wage for next year.

Business groups, mainly small firms and mom-and-pop stores, have been demanding that they be allowed to establish different minimum wages depending on industry and business sizes.

The wage council -- a trilateral panel of business and labor representatives and outside experts -- closed its deliberations earlier in the day and decided to apply the same criteria for all industries. 

In protest, representatives from the business circle walked out of the meeting held at the government complex in Sejong.

The minimum wage has increased by 30 percent since the Moon Jae-in government took office in 2017. The Moon government is seeking to raise the minimum wage to 10,000 won ($8.90) by 2020, a key election pledge by the president. 

Yet the rapid increase has sparked a strong backlash from businesses, especially small and self-employed shop owners, who have complained of ballooning labor costs.

The country hiked the wage by 16.4 percent on-year to 7,530 won per hour in 2018, the steepest rise in 17 years. In 2019, it raised the minimum wage by 10.9 percent to 8,350 won. (Yonhap)