|Full-time workers at Incheon International Airport Corp. protest the company's decision to grant regular employment status to to 1,902 current contract or part-time security officers working at the airport, Monday. / Yonhap|
By Jun Ji-hye
The presidential office defended the Incheon International Airport Corp.'s (IIAC) decision to change the status of 1,902 contract and part-time security officers working at the airport to regular workers, Thursday, signaling that there is no room for the airport operator to reverse the decision despite public criticism from certain areas.
Hwang Deok-soon, senior secretary to President Moon Jae-in for employment, said the move was aimed at enhancing fairness in the labor market and better protecting irregular workers in accordance with Moon's election pledges, noting that it was not about fairness in the hiring process of state-run companies.
The decision, announced Monday, has been drawing fierce criticism from young jobseekers and existing full-time workers.
Jobseekers are claiming that they could be "victims" of the move as it would reduce the number of regular jobs at the IIAC at a time when many young people, mostly university graduates, are spending much time and money in trying to get a job there.
The operator of the nation's main gateway has been one of the most popular public enterprises among jobseekers.
Hwang said the decision was not suddenly made in recent days as it was made in December 2017 after labor and management of the airport operator and experts reached a consensus.
"The decision is unrelated to jobseekers who are applying for jobs at the IIAC," Hwang said in a TBS radio program.
Hwang said a different wage system from that of existing regular workers would be applied to the contract and part-time security officers who will be granted regular employment status, denying rumors that the salary of the new "regular" workers will skyrocket.
"I believe criticism against the decision is fundamentally based on the unemployment crisis facing young people. And the government should take responsibility for that," Hwang said.
Although Hwang has made several appearances in local radio and TV programs to explain the plan to the public, the controversy is showing no sign of being resolved.
A petition posted Tuesday by one jobseeker on Cheong Wa Dae's website calling on the IIAC to stop the move has been signed by more than 227,000 citizens as of 1 p.m. Thursday.
The petitioner said the decision was "shocking" as it would bring about "great misfortune" to young people.
Cheong Wa Dae is required to give an official response to a petition that generates more than 200,000 signatures in a month.
A civic group representing those preparing to enter the legal profession lodged a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea against IIAC President and CEO Koo Bon-hwan, Thursday, claiming the employment plan would violate the right of jobseekers to equality in the hiring process.