Pyongyang, Seoul agree on Kaesong wages

Some 53,000 North Korean workers began to return to Kaesong in September 2013 [Xinhua]

Some 53,000 North Korean workers began to return to Kaesong in September 2013 [Xinhua]

Negotiators from North and South Korea have concluded nearly six months of often difficult talks and agreed to raise by five per cent the wages of laborers who work at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said on Tuesday that the North Korean workers’ minimum wage would now increase to $73.87 per month.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex was established in 2004 as an attempt to bring the two Koreas closer through cross-border cooperation and employing 53,000 North Korean workers.

But Kaesong has been shut down a number of times in the past decade as it suffered from tensions between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington.

It was shut down for several months in 2012 and 2013 as both Koreas traded accusations over Pyongyang’s launching of upgraded missiles and Seoul’s holding of joint military exercises with its US ally.

In February 2015, Pyongyang broke an existing Kaesong agreement and unilaterally raised the wages of the 53,000 North Korean workers by 5.18 per cent.

Since 2007, workers’ wages have increased by an annual 5 per cent increment, but Seoul says any such changes should come through mutual agreement.

South Korean unification ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said at the time that the North should stop unilateral acts and “resolve pending problems through consultations between authorities.”

In March, Seoul called on its northern neighbor to begin talks on means to improve the industrial zone as well as iron out any differences.

The wage increase will be applied retroactively to March 2015.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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