Unmanned Smart Stores Threaten Minimum Wage Jobs

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Unmanned 'Smart' Stores Threaten Minimum-Wage Jobs
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Unmanned 'Smart' Stores Threaten Minimum-Wage Jobs

Customers order at a self-service terminal in a McDonald's in Seoul on Tuesday.

Unmanned 'smart' stores and vending machines are threatening minimum-wage jobs as the government is poised to raise the minimum wage to W10,000 an hour over the next three years (US$1=W1,127).

Superstore chain Homeplus has already been offering self-checkout since 2005 and now operates about 390 terminals in 90 stores nationwide where customers scan their own products, choose payment options such as cash or a credit card and make the payment.

Half of Small Firms to Slash Jobs Over Minimum Wage Hike
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Half of Small Firms to Slash Jobs Over Minimum Wage Hike

Nine out of 10 small and mid-sized businesses are against government plans to raise the minimum wage to W10,000 an hour, and a majority claim they would have no choice but to cut down on staff or hiring (US$1=W1,150).

The Small and Medium Business Administration polled 332 SMEs last month on their views on the minimum wage hike and found that 56 percent would cut down on new hires.

Some 41.6 percent said they would lay off existing staff, 28.9 percent they would have to close their business completely, 14.2 percent they will slash pay and 6.3 percent they would think of moving abroad.

1 out of 4 of School-Age Part-Timers Paid Less Than Minimum Wage
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1 out of 4 of School-Age Part-Timers Paid Less Than Minimum Wage

One in four youngsters working part-time workers earns less than minimum wage and some were not paid at all, a survey suggests. The minimum hourly wage was W6,030 last year (US$1=W1,138).

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family last month published a 2016 survey of 15,646 youngsters in fourth thorough 12th grade across the country to gauge their exposure to harmful environments.

Some 11.3 percent said they have had part-time jobs. Most said they did not rebel against improper treatment, even though they were paid less than minimum wage (25.8 percent), were not paid overdue wages (13.4 percent), were forced to work unpaid overtime (16.9 percent), or suffered verbal abuse or sexual harassment.

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Record Minimum Wage Hike Approved

The government on Saturday approved a record 16.4 percent hike in the minimum wage next year or an increase of W1,060 to W7,530 (US$1=W1,136). This is the first time ever that the minimum wage has risen by more than W1,000 over a year.

Korea introduced a minimum wage in 1988, and the biggest hike so far was in 2000, shortly after the 1998 Asian financial crisis, when it rose by W265. The fresh increase is part of President Moon Jae-in's plan to raise the minimum wage to W10,000 an hour by 2020.

Most Employers Plan Job Cuts Over Minimum Wage Hike
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Most Employers Plan Job Cuts Over Minimum Wage Hike

Eight out of 10 owners of small shops say they will have to lay off part-time staff if the minimum hourly wage increases to W7,530 next year, a poll suggests (US$1=W1,124).

Part-time job portal Alba polled 352 small shop owners and 5,804 part-time workers across the country on Monday and Tuesday after the government approved a record W1,060 hike in the hourly minimum wage.

The largest proportion or 24.4 percent of shop owners said they plan to cut down half their part-time jobs, and 24 percent said they will slash 10 to 20 percent.