By Kwon Mee-yoo
The government''s move to cut civil servants'' salaries for the first time in more than a decade invited a fierce protest from the union of government workers Wednesday.
Just one day after the government said it plans to slash wages by as much as 7 percent, the Korean Government Employees'' Union issued a statement demanding the government retract the decision, made without consultation.
The government seeks to cut public workers'' wages as an example to get private companies to follow suit to save jobs, government officials said. The wage cut will be the first since 1998, when the nation was hit by the currency crisis. Civil servants'' wages increased 2.5 percent in 2008.
Officials above vice ministerial level last week decided to return 10 percent of their pay to support low-income earners.
Civil servants'' were paid 23.4 trillion won last year, and the reduction could account for 1.2 trillion won. The money raised from the wage reduction would be used for job sharing such as hiring more interns at government agencies and aiding low wage earners.
The union says the decision is coercive, though the government insists it is a voluntary return. ``We don''t understand why the government cuts already-frozen wages of public servants without any prior consultation,'''' it said in a statement. ``We will take all steps to resist the wage cuts if the government attempts to carry through the wage reduction plan.''''