South Korea announces hike in wages

July 17, 2018

Chandan Kumar Mandal, The Kathmandu Post, 17 July 2018

Nepali workers in South Korea are likely to get a pay hike of nearly Rs20,000 per month from next year as the government there has announced an increase in the basic salary.

The South Korean government on Saturday fixed the minimum wage at 8,350 won, approximately Rs 809, per hour, a 10.9 percent growth on the current pay.

After a marathon meeting of the Minimum Wage Council that lasted 19 hours, the decision was made to set a new hourly wage, the first time that the country’s minimum wage will surpass the 8,000-won mark, the Korea Herald reported.

With the revision, monthly salary of a worker--based on a 40-hour workweek--will be 1,745,150 won. A Nepali worker, in the manufacturing or the agriculture sector, is paid 1,575,000 won per month at the hourly rate of 7,530 won. Nepali workers are getting slightly over Rs 150,000 in minimum pay, which will reach nearly Rs170,000 from the upcoming year.

Nepali workers in South Korea are elated with the latest surge in pay. Gokul Dorje Tamang, originally from Sailung Rural Municipality of Dolakha, said most of the Nepali workers are happy with the announcement. “This is another rise after the historic pay hike last year,” said Tamang, who works at a manufacturing company near Seoul.

Nepali workers, however, are concerned about falling overtime hours at the workplace, limiting their income to basic salary.

Both agriculture and manufacturing sectors have the same payment but opportunities for overtime are fewer for agricultural workers.

According to Tamang, agriculture offers less overtime and leave than factories where workers get a two-day weekend.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has pledged to increase the minimum wage to 10,000 won by 2020 to drive income-led growth, according to the Herald.

South Korea is one of the most popular destinations for Nepali workers. More than 55,000 Nepalis have reached Korea under the Employment Permit System since 2008.