Umbrella union leader vows to stand up against gov’t reform of workweek

SEOUL,-- The leader of a major umbrella union on Friday pledged to stand up against the controversial reform of the 52-hour workweek system, accusing the government of trying to cancel labor progress achieved over the past decades.

The government announced a set of labor reform measures on Monday, including enabling companies to increase the maximum work hours per week to 69 hours from the legally permitted 52 hours now.

The measures seek to increase flexibility in the working week so that employers can choose more hours during busy weeks and fewer hours during slow weeks.

"After only a year following the presidential election, we are witnessing the regression of society and the collapse of communities," Kim Dong-myung, the leader of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), said in a speech marking the union's 77th anniversary.

The union leader denounced the workweek reform and accused the government of "trying to take backward steps and bring the state of the labor act back to 70 years ago."

"From measures forcing (labor unions) to submit accounting ledgers to the exploitative 69-hour workweek system, FKTU will stand up against attacks from the government," he said.

South Korea's business communities have welcomed the workweek revision, but opposition parties and the labor sector have voiced strong objections.

"In the eye of the Yoon Suk Yeol government, workers are not members of the country, but the subject of exploitation," Rep. Lee Jae-myung, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, said in a message read by a DP lawmaker during the FKTU event.

"I wonder if the government wants people to die working by expanding the working week to 69 hours," Lee said.

Attending the event, Labor Minister Lee Jeong-sik said both the labor and business sectors should strive together to upgrade the dilapidated labor act from 70 years ago to correspond to the needs of the era of changes.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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