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Seoul proposes talks with Pyongyang over wage row

The spokesman said the joint committee meeting should be held urgently to resolve issues of mutual concern

IANS  |  Seoul 

South Korea's unification ministry on Monday confirmed that it has offered to hold talks on the management of an inter-Korean economic zone, including the ongoing wage hike row for North Korean workers.

The Kaesong industrial zone, launched in 2004 and jointly managed by the two Koreas, has been seen as one of the key symbols of inter-Korean economic cooperation. Some 120 South Korean companies with 53,000 North Korean workers are operating in the park, Xinhua news agency reported.

The proposal came amid the row between Seoul and Pyongyang over the wage hike for North Korean workers employed by South Korean in Kaesong.

Unification ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said that Seoul proposed via the secretariat of the north-south joint committee on Friday to hold the sixth round of a committee meeting on May 20.

The spokesman said the joint committee meeting should be held urgently to resolve issues of mutual concern, including the wage dispute, for stable management and development.

After revising its labour regulations, North Korea raised minimum wages for their workers in Kaesong from $70.35 to $74 per month from March.

South Korea expressed deep regret over the unilateral decision, saying the move breached the previous north-south agreement, under which the two sides agreed to adjust labour conditions after consultations.

Pyongyang called on South Korean companies in Kaesong to pay the increased wages or sign a written guarantee that they would pay the increased wage later as arrears.

In response, Seoul said any company paying the increased wage would face an administrative penalty.

In 2013, the factory park was shut down for five months as Pyongyang withdrew its workers amid rising military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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First Published: Mon, May 18 2015. 12:00 IST