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Gov't urges top conglomerates to share energy crisis burden

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Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Lee Chang-yang, center, enters a meeting room with Samsung Electronics President Rhee In-yong, left, and SK SUPEX Council President Lee Hyung-hee, right, and other leaders of the country's top conglomerates at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry's building in Seoul. Yonhap
Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Lee Chang-yang, center, enters a meeting room with Samsung Electronics President Rhee In-yong, left, and SK SUPEX Council President Lee Hyung-hee, right, and other leaders of the country's top conglomerates at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry's building in Seoul. Yonhap

Public sector to reduce energy use by 10% this winter

By Baek Byung-yeul

The government is asking companies to actively join its energy saving campaign, while pledging to reduce state-run organizations' energy use by 10 percent this winter in response to the fast-approaching energy crisis, according to the industry minister, Monday.

"Recently, our economy has faced many difficulties such as the global energy crisis, high exchange rates, high interest rates, high prices and an economic recession. To quickly overcome these internal and external crises and restore the economy's vitality, the public and the private sectors must work together," Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Lee Chang-yang said during a meeting with top executives from 10 Korean conglomerates at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry's building in Seoul.

"In response to the energy crisis, the government will save as much energy as possible and use it efficiently to reduce 10 percent of its energy consumption during the winter. The government and its agencies will first take the lead in energy conservation by limiting heating temperatures and implementing energy-saving campaigns. We ask each company to check the status of their energy use and actively participate in energy conservation drive," the minister said.

The participants in the meeting were presidents of Samsung Electronics, SK SUPEX Council, Hyundai Steel, LG, Lotte Chemical, POSCO Holdings, Hanwha TotalEnergies, GS Caltex, Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering and Shinsegae Property.

The meeting was held because the government sees that the soaring energy prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine war will continue and countries will have to compete to secure energy sources.

"There is a concern that this crisis will continue for a considerable period of time," the minister said urging companies to check the status of their energy uses. "It is inevitable to adjust the energy price for large-capacity users."

Lee's remarks can be interpreted as the government possibly raising the electricity bill for industry use. On Sept. 23, Park Il-jun, second vice minister of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, said that it will be inevitable for industries that use a lot of energy to pay more electricity fees because the proportion of the industry's electricity use takes a lot more than electricity used for housing and other sectors.

In regard to the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea's attempt to legislate to revise the Labor Union Law, which prohibits employers from filing damages claims against labor unions or their employees even if they are involved in unauthorized strikes, the industry minister said revising the related law needs to be reconsidered.

"The amendment of the union law is causing concerns in terms of economic and legal aspects. The amendment is not in line with global standards and there is a risk of spreading illegal strikes due to excessive exemptions," Park said. "It is necessary to review the revision of the union law carefully."


Baek Byung-yeul baekby@koreatimes.co.kr


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