December 24, 2009 09:40
When an inter-Korean team toured industrial parks abroad from Dec. 12-22, North Korean officials took an especially keen interest in the wages workers are paid there, South Korean delegates said on Wednesday. The group went on the trip to seek inspiration for the joint-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex.
Kim Young-tak of the Unification Ministry, who led the South Korean team, told reporters, "The North Korean officials took great interest in the wages, operating systems, and insurance and accounting systems at foreign industrial complexes." They asked company executives many questions about these matters, saying South Korean employers were sometimes late in paying North Korean workers at the Kaesong complex, Kim added.
The North Koreans discovered that the average minimum wage in industrial parks in Vietnam is over US$60 per month and in China over $100.
There are worries that the tour may have backfired, prompting the North to demand a wage hike for workers at the Kaesong industrial park, where the current minimum wage excluding social insurance benefits is about $57. Most of this is taken by the North Korean government.
Pyongyang already demanded a wage hike earlier this year and wants Seoul to build a dormitory for about 40,000 workers in Kaesong.
During the tour, the team visited the factories of nine companies including six South Korean firms at industrial parks in Vietnam and China and their management offices.
South Korea bore all expenses, but the ministry would not reveal how much that was.
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