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The government’s plan to merge four public insurance systems is facing a backlash from Korean labor unions.

On Monday, Korea’s two main labor unions, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), delivered a joint statement warning, ``If the government unilaterally pushes the insurance merger plan, we will stop it by mustering every measure including a general strike.’’

The plan was discussed last week during a meeting of senior officials from related authorities, including the Presidential Committee on Social Inclusion, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Ministry of Labor Affairs and the National Tax Service.

Under the proposal, the country's four public insurance systems _ pension, health, employment and industrial accident _ will be put under control of the National Tax Service, and a new fee-collection corporation will be established to improve the effectiveness of the social security network.

However, details for the plan and when the plan will go into effect have not yet been decided.

The two unions said that although the government should improve the benefits of the country’s four major public insurance systems, simply transferring the collection of fees to the NTS was unacceptable.

``The government is trying to avoid its responsibility for the failure of its policy by bringing in a new plan,’’ the unions said in a statement.

The unions also said on statement that if the insurance merger plan is enacted without thorough preparation, it will cause a reduction in people’s well-being as funding is expected to decrease.

The unions are also concerned that the new plan will dismantle the current operations of the insurance system.

Even though the government said the merger of the four major public insurance systems will not bring about large-scale downsizing of manpower, the unions are calling for more detailed plans and measures.

``The four public insurances are essentially a guarantee of the basic needs of life. Hence the government should not change the system just to make administration easier,’’ said Kim Sun-jee, the director of the policy department at the FKTU.

The government of the time suggested the same plan in 1998, but due to strong protests by the unions it had to be scrapped

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