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People's Daily Online

ROK, DPRK reconfirm differences in wage hike for economic zone

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 14:14, April 08, 2015

SEOUL, April 8 -- South Koreaand the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) reconfirmed their different positions on wage hike for DPRK workers in the Kaesong industrial zone during Tuesday contact, Seoul's unification ministry said on Wednesday.

Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol told a press briefing that the first inter-Korean contact over the wage increase issue was held in Kaesong between South Korea's management committee for the factory park and the DPRK's General Bureau for Guidance to Central Special Economic Zone Development.

During the contact, both sides failed to reach any compromise over the wage hike.

'The North side (DPRK) said during the contact yesterday that adopting and enforcing labor regulations is a matter of its own authority, not a matter subject to inter-governmental consultations,' Lim said.

South Korea maintains that the wage hike issue in the inter- Korean factory park should be resolved through talks.

In November 2014, the DPRK revised labor regulations on the Kaesong industrial complex without consultations with South Korea, notifying the South side of its decision in late February.

Under the revision, the minimum wages for DPRK workers in Kaesong will be raised from 70.35 U.S. dollars to 74 dollars starting from March. The new wage will be paid from April 10.

It was a 5.18 percent increase, surpassing the 5 percent ceiling that South Korea set as a guideline for an annual wage hike. Including social security contributions, average monthly wages for the DPRK workers would total 164.1 dollars, up 5.53 percent from the current 155.5 dollars.

South Korea instructed companies running factories in Kaesong not to raise wages, warning of an administrative penalty if the firms pay the increased wages.

The Kaesong industrial zone is the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation, where some 120 South Korean companies are operating factories and hiring some 53,000 DPRK workers.

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