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S. Korean president warns unions not to resist her reforms

Unions blame government for state-run firms' $932 million debt

S. Korean president warns unions not to resist her reforms

Picture: Korea Herald

Korea Herald

February 11, 2014

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President Park Geun-hye said Monday that she won’t tolerate any labor resistance to her drive to reform the public sector, castigating debt-ridden institutions’ morals, excessive welfare benefits and lack of efforts to improve their management.

“(I’m) extremely worried about resistance moves by labor unions at public institutions against the reform plan to normalize (the public sector), and the people won’t tolerate this either,” she said during a weekly meeting with senior secretaries.

“The people are tightening their belts due to (economic) difficulties. But if the public companies keep (their) lax management (practices), we should let people know the realities of (public institutions) and let the public institutions take voluntary steps for change,” she said. 

The president’s warning came after unionized workers in the public sector refused to participate in labor-management negotiations by holding the government responsible for state-run firms’ growing debt. They said the practice of well-connected politicians or former government officials being parachuted into the top post of public bodies or the government’s policy failures have put public firms heavily in debt.

Reform of the public sector is part of Park’s major state agenda. 

Park, during a New Year’s press conference, said she would push ahead with a three-year economic renovation plan to stimulate growth and raise the level of per capita income. 

To accomplish the goal, the president has vowed to carry out a high level of reform in both the public and private sectors as well as to encourage creative economy and expand domestic demand.

Under her vision of “normalizing the abnormal,” the president said she would make public entities more efficient, accountable and transparent, implying sweeping reform in the sector.

State-owned enterprises and other public organizations have been at the center of criticism due to their rapidly growing debt and lax management practices.

Park said that lax management at public institutions is so serious that the people would not believe it. 

As of 2013, the cumulative debt of the 12 most heavily indebted public corporations reached 412 trillion won (US$932 million), surpassing the central government’s annual budget of 355 trillion won set for this year, Park said quoting recent data.

Full Story: President warns unions against reform resistance 

Source: Korea Herald

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