N.Korean Kaesong Workers' Productivity Lags Far Behind S.Korean Workers

      May 18, 2009 12:27

      With North Korea demanding its workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex receive a raise in salary, and threatening to shut the complex down if their demands are not met, South Korean companies there say the salary given to North Korean workers is not low in comparison to the wages earned by workers in countries such as China and Vietnam.

      The basic monthly salary of North Korean workers at the complex is US$63.4, consisting of $55.1 in wages and $8.3 in social insurance. In addition, overtime work pay amounts to between $11 to 18.3 a month, and a welfare package subsidizing lunches, snacks and transport costs is provided at a range of between $36.6 and 47.9 per month. In total, the monthly salary of a North Korean worker ranges from $110 to 130, which, the companies argue, is comparable to that earned by workers in China and Vietnam.

      A survey of some 40 firms operating at the complex was carried out after the first round of talks on April 25 to discover why these firms were having difficulty accepting North Korea's demands. According to the survey, the productivity of an individual North Korean worker is just 33 percent that of a South Korean worker. In comparison, the productivity of Chinese and Vietnamese workers is 96 and 85 percent that of South Korean workers, respectively.

      The companies also argue that it is difficult to accept North Korea's demand to pay land use fees from next year, considering the fee they paid for building factories there. The fee for building factories in the Kaesong industrial park was $394 per one sq.m of land, compared to $122 in China and $65 in Vietnam.

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