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정책세미나

Emerging Labor Issues in Developing Asia (December 7-8, 1989)

페이스북
커버이미지
  • 저자 이종훈(李宗勳) , 박훤구(朴煊求)
  • 발행일 1991/12/01
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요약 This survey of labor market conditions in several developing
economies in Asia has revealed that the problems are varied and
complex. In many of these economies, market forces by and
large have determined wages. In others, however, institutional
forces have played a crucial role in wage determination. What
differentiates these Asian nations from the lagging developing
countries of the world is that their institutional forces did not
lead to wage increases in excess of productivity gains and thus
did not become a drag on economic growth. There are now,
however, signs that new institutional forces more redistributive
government policies and more strident unionism are developing
in some of the NIEs. If these forces do become entrenched in
these economies, the continued dynamism of these economies
into the 1990s may be in jeopardy.

The high includence of labor strife in Korea, for instance,
may not simply be an attempt to increase the material
well-being of the working class, but may reflect a sense of
discontent with the distribution of income and wealth that the
become less equitable in recent years. It may be widely
perceived that the growth-oriented policies of the 1960s and
1970s unjustly allowed vast fortunes to be accumulated by a few
at the expense of many. Such perception, whether correct or not,
will not easily go away with settlements on wages and working
conditions that are in step with productivity gains.

The situations in Taiwan and Singapore are somewhat
different from the gloomy picture of Korea. In Taiwan, however,
there are latent conflicts between the original Taiwanese people
and the mainland China transplants who have ruled the country
so far. These conflicts may turn into open confrontations and
undermine the stability of Taiwan's industrial relations.
Moreover, Taiwan has yet to privatize its large state-owned
enterprises; when it does, its private sector will resemble that of
Korea with its attendant problems.

Singapore has yet to prove how it can make the eventual
transition in its political leadership. Under different political
leadership, the government may not be able to maintain the
peaceful partnership it has thus far had between labor unions
and management.

The Philippines can learn form the experiences of Korea and
Taiwan. It should let the market do more to determine wages,
and it should encourage the development of small and
medium-sized enterprises, if only by avoiding policies that are
biased in favor of large scale conglomerates. At the same time,
it is recognized that replacing existing institutions with more
market forces in the labor market is a difficult task.

As for the Asian NIEs, their lessons will have to come form
the industrialized countries. As they approach industrial
maturation, they too will have to accept changes in their labor
markets and industrial relations, For political as well as for
economic reasons. the labor markets of the Asian NIEs will not
continue to function as if they are a competitive market, if they
ever were. Thus, the challenge these economies now face is to
develop labor market institutions which do not become a drag on
economic growth. The challenge is to find the institutions which
help bring about a fair and just income distribution and are
consistent with more open political processes, but at the same
time do not become a drag on economic efficiency and
productivity gains. Being late-comers in industrialization, they
should be able to learn from the experiences of those who have
preceded them.
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