* The Federation of Korean Trade Unions(FKTU) claims that the unemployment aid should be set at the rate of 25% to 30% of the average wage to tackle the poverty of the working poor.
As the income gap between the high income group and the low income group has recorded the widest ever in history, there arises an urgent call for the measures to assist the working poor group. According to the Statistics Korea on February 21, the wage income of the lowest 20 percent bracket decreased to 435,000 won, down by 36.8 percent in the fourth quarter last year compared to the same quarter of the previous year. It means that even though they are working, they are unable to escape poverty.
The Federation of Korean Trade Unions(FKTU) argued that "along with the introduction of unemployment aid, it is necessary to strengthen the active labor market policy to support the system." It is suggested to further build up the social safety net for those who are not eligible for the employment insurance. The FKTU released an issue paper covering "the construction of the social safety net for all citizens through the introduction of unemployment aid."
The unemployment aid is nothing new. President Moon Jae-in also made a pledge to introduce the unemployment aid during his presidential election campaigns. On February 19, the government revealed a concrete measure regarding the Korean-model unemployment aid with the announcement of the 'social policy for the inclusive nation". The key point in the unemployment aid is that the working poor(whose income is less than 60 percent of the median income) who are neither eligible for the employment insurance nor national basic livelihood beneficiaries will be assisted with 500,000 won(US$444) a month for a period of 6 months, when they participate in the job assistance programs.
The FKTU, however, criticized that "the benefit amount of 500,000 won(US$444) of the government plan, if it is fixed, even does not reach the basic living assistance of 512,000 won(US$455) for a single family set by the National Basic Living Security Act and it would not create a significant pull effect on the working poor." As the target of beneficiaries of the unemployment aid, the FKTU suggested to include the youth unemployed not covered by the employment insurance, the handicapped experiencing the difficulty in finding jobs, women workers on career breaks due to childbirth and child rearing, and the long-term unemployed whose unemployment insurance benefits are fully used. The FKTU said that the amount of the unemployment aid should be set at the level reaching 25~30 percent of the average wage(2.87 million won as of 2017) which is about 700,000~850,000 won(US$625~759) per month, but it can be changed in accordance with the beneficiary's age and ability to support the family. The FKTU also added that the unemployment aid should be paid for 12 months at the beginning of the system and it should be eventually extended to the maximum of 24 months.
In the meanwhile, the Economic, Social and Labor Council(ESLC) is scheduled to convene its social safety net committee on February 22 to 'adopt an agreement to strengthen the employment safety net' which is expected to include the substantiality of the employment insurance system and the introduction of unemployment aid, and the strengthened employment service infrastructure.
reported by Kim Mi-young
translated by Kim Sung-jin
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