A bank employee shows several 50,000 won notes in Seoul, South Korea, on 7 August, 2017. EFE-EPA FILE/YONHAP/USE OF THIS IMAGE IS PROHIBITED IN SOUTH KOREA

South Korea approves 2.5% minimum wage hike in 2024

Seoul, July 19 (EFE).- South Korea’s Minimum Wage Commission on Wednesday approved a 2.5 percent increase in minimum wage in 2024 to 9,860 won ($7.80), sparking protests from union representatives, who had asked for a 26.9 percent hike.

The commission agreed to the increase after an hours-long meeting that began on Tuesday amid a lack of agreement between employers – who wanted a freeze in the minimum wage – and trade unions following almost four months of unsuccessful negotiations.

This year’s wage negotiations have been the longest since the current system for setting the minimum wage was established in 2007.

The newly approved hike is preceded by increases of 10.9 percent in 2019, 1.5 percent in 2021, 5.05 percent in 2022 and 5 percent for this year.

By law, the commission must submit the newly agreed minimum wage to the labor ministry, which is responsible for announcing the measure.

Both trade unions and employers can then protest the decision and request a review by the commission, subject to authorization by the labor minister.

So far, neither side has ever called for a re-evaluation.

Union representatives on Wednesday expressed their anger at the decision at the end of the vote to set the minimum wage.

The country’s main labor union, the  Federation of Korean Trade Unions, had staged a two-week staggered strike earlier this month to protest the attitude of the employers and labor policies of the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol government.

New strikes are expected to be convened following Wednesday’s decision. EFE