Dutch minister: Our labor model is not perfect

The Korea Herald, 12 July 2003

Even though the consensus-based Dutch model of labor-management relations contributed to the tremendous economic growth of the Netherlands for the past 20 years, the system also needs some improvement in light of the fast-changing global economy, a visiting Dutch trade chief said.

With the labor participating in managerial decisions, surging labor costs have hindered further economic expansion in the country since 2001, Minister for Foreign Trade Karien van Gennip told Korean journalists Thursday.

She arrived in Seoul Monday leading a Dutch economic delegation to promote trade and investment between the two nations. The minister is planning to leave Korea today.

The Dutch labor system is a hotly debated topic in Korea after a presidential aide hinted last week that Seoul would borrow some of its key elements in an effort to forge a new labor-management relations model for Korea, one that will be based on trust and compromise.

Cooperation means that both sides give up something. It really takes time. But I believe, despite rising skepticism on the efficiency of the system in the era of fierce global competition, in the end, the Dutch model can provide answers for stable development, which allows all members of society to participate in the prosperity, she said.

The minister added that the Dutch model is not a fixed system, but is becoming increasingly open and flexible to better adapt to global changes.

As the Netherlands is trying to set a new economic vision for the 21st century, the nation has found that it has much to learn from Korea such as passion, diligence and commitment to development, she noted.

It was very impressive that Korean people are really living out technological developments in their everyday life, such as high-speed broadband access to the Internet, she went on.