Opposition parties call for parliamentary probe into subway operator’s hiring scandal

SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) -- Opposition parties on Thursday called for a parliamentary probe into the Seoul subway operator over allegations that it gave job favors to relatives of its employees.

Seoul Metro, owned by the city government, transferred 1,285 contract workers to permanent employment status as of March, and among them, 108 people were relatives of the operator's existing and former employees, according to Rep. You Min-bong of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP).

The employment practices have become a hotly discussed issue during the ongoing parliamentary audit session, prompting opposition parties to sharpen their attack on the government.

The LKP called the case a "hiring gate" involving those who are close to the government, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and a major labor umbrella group.

The conservative LKP raised suspicions that the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions was behind the scheme to have two people affiliated with the now-dissolved leftist Unified Progressive Party be hired at Seoul Metro as contract workers in 2016.

The LKP claimed that the case reaffirmed close links between the government and the union circle.

"If Mayor Park neglected this problem though he already knew about it, his behavior would be unethical. If he was not aware of the situation, we cannot help but raise questions about his capacity as mayor," Kim Byong-joon, the chairman of the LKP, said.

The minor opposition Bareunmirae Party did not rule out a possible establishment of solidarity with the LKP on this issue.

"There is the possibility that opposition parties will be united in calling for the parliamentary probe," Kim Kwan-young, the floor leader of the party, told reporters.

The ruling Democratic Party remains cautious about the parties' request, saying that it will await the outcome of an inspection by the state audit agency.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Wednesday that it will ask the Board of Audit and Inspection to look into the case.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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