Labor disputes at foreign-invested firms increased sharply last year as workers demanded higher wage hikes and better working conditions.
The Ministry of Labor said yesterday that 31 of about 1,500 firms in which foreigners have more than a 50 percent stake reported labor disputes in 2000, a significant rise from nine in 1999, two in 1998 and five in 1997.
A ministry official said most of the labor disputes were triggered by failures in negotiations over wage hikes and improvement of working environments.
The reported labor disputes were found to have lasted about one month on average.
``A growing number of workers demanded higher wage hikes at more foreign- invested firms last year after they refrained from asking for better pay following the 1997 economic crisis,'' said the official.
He also pointed out that foreign employers were unable to properly deal with labor disputes because they were not accustomed to Korean culture and practices.
He stressed that managers of those companies will have to get a better understanding of their workers' demands and Korean labor-management culture.
``Foreign businessmen generally have a high opinion of local workers …