I'm reading a book about the economic development of South Korea during the 'miracle' period.
One of the points the author makes is the following:
A major source of industrial disputes was delayed wages, a mechanism whereby companies attempted to pass the burden of slack business on to their workers by withholding wages (just as [they] passed the slack on to dependent sub-contractors by delaying payments).
I get that slack is unused inputs, which would in this case be the wage laborers and the capital that the sub-contractors produce. But what's the point of withholding wages in response in having excess productive capacity? If it matters, the companies of interest here are the Chaebol conglomerates.
(the book is The Politics of Economic Reform in South Korea: A Fragile Miracle)