The total amount of overdue wages increased over 71 percent by February, compared to a year earlier, in yet another reflection of an economy hard-hit by the global financial turmoil.
The Labor Ministry yesterday said the number of people with overdue wages was 42,166, up 69.4 percent from last year, and the sum for overdue wages was 171.5 billion won ($110.47 million) during the first two months of this year.
Since the crippling of the global economy late last year, the amount of overdue wages has been on the rise, especially since November, according to ministry officials.
As the ministry expects the trend of overdue wages to continuously increase, which makes it difficult for many workers to finance their living costs, it is negotiating with related government branches to increase its budget - up to 553.3 billion won - to offer government loans at a low interest rate, said Lee Ki-kweon, employment policy officer at the ministry.
In January, the ministry unveiled a set of measures to deal with overdue wages including increased financial support for workers.
This followed ministry data that wages for about 242,000 people, equivalent to 926.6 billion won, were delayed last year, with overdue payments increasing.
It said it will use 71 billion won to extend low-interest loans to help laborers and their families, which allows them to borrow up to 7 million won per person at 2.4 percent interest.
The ministry will lend 6 million won to the families of jobless people and offer training for those who are newly unemployed due to the economic downturn. Legal service support will be offered to 52,000 people, ministry officials said. It will also strengthen its cooperation with other related government organizations, including the Justice Ministry, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Small and Medium Business Administration, its officials said.
By Cho Ji-hyun