Creating a country where labor is proudly held up
Labor created human civilization. Whether it is labor suffused with artistic inspiration, skilled labor, simple labor, production work or white-collar office work – all labor is noble. Labor has also led the advancement of the Republic of Korea. Labor should be accorded the respect due.
A society in which labor is respected is a key priority of my Administration. Raising the minimum wage, shifting contracted non-regular workers to regular employment and limiting the maximum workweek to 52 hours are all policies intended to improve laborers’ quality of life and, through this, the quality of labor.
Society cannot be changed overnight with government policies alone, but the amendment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act will enhance laborers’ safety and health day-by-day. Moreover, it is fortunate that those laborers who suffered while staging sit-ins at dangerous heights or hunger strikes have been able to return to their workplaces. Longstanding labor disputes that were underway even before the launch of my Administration – those involving SsangYong Motor, KTX female train attendants, Finetek and Cor-Tek Corporation – have all been resolved.
There is still a long road ahead, but I expect the Economic, Social and Labor Council to be brought into normal operation at the earliest possible date and produce fruitful outcomes. The Government will stand behind its efforts. I hope the labor sector, too, will take part in the endeavor with an attitude that it is part of our society’s mainstream. In the past, labor sought respect through arduous campaigns on an uneven playing field, but in the future, it should earn respect through mutual growth.
Yesterday, the dedication of the Chun Tae-il Memorial was held at Cheonggyecheon. I feel as if I am in a completely different world. The days are gone when “Chun Tae-il,” the name of the deceased labor activist, could only be spoken in secret. Now we can tell our children about the dignity of labor. I am grateful to the Seoul Metropolitan Government and relevant officials for having worked hard through the completion of this Memorial.
I want to create a country where labor is proudly held up. I want to build a nation where people can realize their dreams through labor, where people can contribute to global development through labor and where people can be respected through labor. I want to see skilled workers, technicians and master craftsmen be held in esteem as the main actors in every workplace or every aspect of our communities.