Representatives of the business circle at South Korea's wage commission on Friday refused to take part in the last-minute negotiation session meant to decide the country's minimum wage level for next year.
The Minimum Wage Commission, which consists of 27 representatives from labor, management and the general public, has been in talks over the last several months to fix the minimum wage level for 2019 -- the deadline for which is Saturday.
But nine members from the management side boycotted the meetings on Wednesday and decided not to attend the final round of the talks set to resume before midnight. The commission suspended the session earlier in the day to wait for the management side's stance.
The labor side is demanding a 43 percent increase in the wage to 10,790 won (US$9.52), while those representing business have called for a freeze.
"We've asked to apply different levels of minimum wage according to business sector and the size of each firm to protect small entities. But the demand has been rejected, and we have no reason to participate in the meeting," an official for management said.
Another official from the Korea Federation of Micro Enterprise grumbled, "We will simply reject any kind of decision by the commission, regardless of the increase rate."
This year's minimum wage stands at 7,530 won per hour, up 16.4 percent from a year ago -- the biggest hike in nearly two decades.
President Moon Jae-in has vowed to increase the threshold to 10,000 won by 2020 to achieve income-led growth, although this goal has been criticized by local businesses due to rising costs. (Yonhap)