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Small merchants vow to boycott further hike in minimum wage, stores to protest by closure

2018.07.13 13:45:40 | 2018.07.13 13:48:57
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An association of small business owners and the self-employed in Korea declared a “moratorium” on next year’s minimum wage increase during a press conference held at the headquarters of the Korea Federation of SMEs on Thursday. [Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]

An association of small business owners and the self-employed in Korea declared a “moratorium” on next year’s minimum wage increase during a press conference held at the headquarters of the Korea Federation of SMEs on Thursday. [Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]

Small merchants across Korea vowed to fight against further hikes in minimum wage, threatening to boycott any new state-set base wage after the labor side is pushing to up the hourly legal floor to 10,760 won ($9.58), up 43.3 percent from this year’s level.

The minimum wage commission consisting of representatives of the government, labor and industry sectors has until Saturday to set the guideline for next year’s base wage level. Earlier this week, it voted down employers’ proposal to differentiate the legal minimum wage based on industrial and business features. Representatives of employers since walked out of the commission.

The Moon Jae-in administration aims to raise the minimum wage to 10,000 won by 2020 as the keystone to its income-led growth policy. The commission is set to decide on next year’s minimum wage hike based on feedback from its members on Saturday.

The association of convenience store owners across the nation held a press conference on Thursday and declared they cannot pay beyond this year level that has already taken heavy toll on their business due to a 16.4 percent jump from 2017. They argued labor cost already takes up 41 percent of their income.

They argued that they would rather go to prison than pay beyond their affordability. Violation of minimum wage rule leads to punitive action of up to three years in prison or maximum fine of 20 million won.

The convenient store industry plans to hold large-scale rallies and go far as shuttering shops if its demands are not met.

Separately, the Korea Federation of Micro Enterprise, which represents small business owners and the self-employed employing 10 or fewer employees in manufacturing sector and five or fewer in services business, said it would boycott government-set wage level and instead pay employees after individual negotiation between employers and employees.

By Ahn Byung-joon and Minu Kim

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]

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