SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Korea Bizwire) — Only weeks after the drastic minimum wage hike for next year was announced, the impact is already being felt on apartment security guards in South Korea, with a number of communities reportedly considering staff cuts to save monthly maintenance fees.
The minimum wage hike, which was hailed as a nod to the voice of working class people, has turned out to be damaging to at least apartment guards, as the record high 16.5 percent minimum wage increase for next year is seeing apartment building communities like one in Bundang District in Seongnam City plan to cut guard numbers.
According to a poster put up on a message board at the apartment block in Bundang District in Gyeonggi Province, two teams consisting of a total of 34 staff members will be slashed by 26 percent to 25, as part of the community’s plan to save maintenance expenses prior to next year before the new minimum wage takes effect.
The apartment complex with over 1,600 households came to the decision after the residents’ committee held a meeting earlier this month during which members discussed ways to prepare for the minimum wage hike in 2018.
Currently, a monthly salary of 1.35 million won is being paid to each guard out of residents’ pockets, a total of 45.90 million won to keep 34 guards employed.
As the average age among the workers is between 75 and 80, the maintenance expenses paid for security guards are thought to be cheaper than other apartment blocks.
However, this is expected to change as working class apartment residents find it financially burdensome to keep up with the higher costs of security guards.
“Most of the households in this complex are living in an apartment smaller than 700 square feet, they are not the most well-off people. As they have their own worries, we have no other choice but to accept their decision,” a guard at the complex in Bundang District said.
Another guard working at the same location, however, expressed frustration.
“Not many places like to hire people like us who are old as guards. Though the wage is low, it wasn’t that difficult to look after a small number of households, but if we lose our jobs, there is nowhere else to go.”
As the guards’ contract comes to an end in October, the vice-president of the residents’ committee argues that even if the number of staff members is reduced, younger workers on a higher wage could save labor costs while doing the same job.
The residents’ committee is set to take a vote on the future of the guards after collecting opinions from local residents by the end of this year.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)