Retreating policies on gender equality: focusing on policies from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family

 

 According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Report, South Korea ranked 116th in wage gap between women and men. Korea ranked behind Nepal and Cambodia. Economic growth that the country achieved was glossy, yet it was a result of exploitation of women workers, and discrimination against women still exists. A few days ago, my author, who is in a university now, said this to me. " It is more difficult for a woman to get a job, even if we study hard as men do. Gender equality..? What the crap."

 

 We all know that it is unlikely that male bread winners can support the family as it they did in the 70s and the 80s. Future is so uncertain and unstable in this ear that everyone, men and women, are all irregular workers. The instability in our lives is a result of wrong policies that Park Geun-hye administration is promoting, policies that expand inequality, instead of reducing it. The retrogressive reform of the labor market is a good example. If the labor market is reformed as the government intends, people will be working as irregular workers in their entire lives like salves; they will work as irregular workers in their 20s, part-time workers in their 30s, and dispatched workers in their 50s.

 

 If you look at the counseling cases in our Call for Equality, the only available job for a woman who went to graduate school but discontinued her career is a job with the minimum wage, which pays her 1,200,000 won a month. The government said that they will create decent part-time jobs, yet they are converting regular jobs into part-time jobs with poor working conditions. It is uncommon to see the cases that the employer sign the contract for only 11 months in order to avoid the retirement pay. The government promised solutions for the women's career discontinuity, yet in the past five years, we have 26,000 women who were fired because they could not get the maternal leave. Moreover, sexual harassment, insulting individual's character, and human right violence are going worse and worse! What are the government, who is supposed to protect the people and enforce the law, and especially the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, who is supposed to protect women's human rights, doing now?

 

 It is the government and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family that who must be fired because of their unsatisfactory performance in fulfilling their constitutional duties to protect the rights of the people. We, women, will not hesitate in demanding our rights but we will stand up for our constitutional rights. The more they try to oppress us, the more persistently we will arise. We urge the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family to respect and obey the constitutional law.

 


November 25th, 2015

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Three non-profit organizations for domestic workers press conference,

 

Stop lying about the legislation for domestic work! Stop now!

We condemn the Ministry of Employment and Labor for its idleness!



 On Friday November 6th, the National House Managers’ Cooperation, YWCA Korea, and the National Domestic Workers Association hosted a press conference at the main gate of the National Assembly.

 

 In February, the Ministry of Employment and Labor announced that they will legislate a law ‘act on usage of domestic service and employment of in-home workers’ in March. It is almost at the end of the year, yet the promise from the ministry is missing. Now, the three organizations hosted the press conference to condemn the ministry for its idleness.

 

 In the conference Yoon Hyeon-Mi, a president of the National House Managers’ Cooperation, argued that domestic workers should stop just waiting the legislation but the workers voice their requests so that we can achieve the new law that protects domestic workers’ human rights and labor rights.

 

 Kim Jae-Soon, who also gave a speech at the conference, spoke up about the reality of domestic workers that the workers lack break , vacation, any protection from the injury at work. She also condemned that the work is unstable as workers are often fired without any notice and they have nowhere even when their clients treated them as a thief or offend their feeling with verbal abuse.

 

 Reading a joint statement for the press conference, the representatives of the three organization requested that; the article 11 clause 1 in the Labor Standard Act, which excludes domestic workers from the scope of application of the law, must be deleted; the law protecting domestic workers must be legislated promptly; stable work environment where domestic workers can work safely must be created; public assistance for single-parent, low-income families must be expanded;the government must establish policies that cultivate non-profit domestic service provider organizations. The three organizations conduct a performance condemning the empty word of ministry by breaking rice chips which is empty inside.



Joint statement

 A missing legislation: we strongly condemning the empty word of the government that ignores people

 

 It has been five years since the alliance of domestic workers’ organizations and civic groups in the labor movement has proposed amendment of the Labor Standard Act and legislation of a law protecting domestic workers in 2010. Meanwhile, outside the country the ILO convention concerning domestic workers in 2011;inside the country, national assembly of Korea urged the ratification of the convention in 2011, the Korea Tripartite Commission made its official request for protection for domestic workers in 2012.

 

 After all these long discussions, the Ministry of Employment and Labor announced that they will promote ‘formalization of informal labor market’ as a means of ‘improving labor market structure in order to create more jobs’ in January 13, 2015. In February 24th, the ministry also made an announced that they will legislate a law to formalize domestic workers in the informal labor market and enforce it next year.

 

 It seemed that the legal protection of domestic workers are on the progress; indeed, domestic workers and citizens who heard the news about the legislation paid attention to the issue, expecting that the government pays attention to the reality of people and brings a real change that people actually can see. So did we domestic workers organizations. Although the result of our continuous request for amendment of the Labor Standard Act, which can bring a profound change, is not our satisfactory, we agreed that the announcement from the ministry about the legislation would be a big step towards the stability in employment of domestic workers. So we hosted forums and educated people in order to gather voice from the workers and to reach out people.

 

 However, at the almost end of year, in October, we do not see the promise, which is supposed to be fulfilled as one of the major tasks of the government. There is long way to go to legislate, such as, hosting public hearing, making a legislation notice, and searching funding for the legislation, yet the government keeps silence on this matter. Where did the promise with the people go? Was the promise that gave hope to domestic workers and the people about the change just a empty word? Did they just threw it out there? The Ministry of Employment and Labor, as a ministry in charge, must show us a road map for the legislation; when and with what contents will they propose the legislation? When will the law will be enforced? How will they find the financial source for the enactment of the law?

 

 All these questions must be answered specifically and clearly. We also request an official meeting with the minister of the Ministry of Employment and Labor. The minister avoided answering the national assembly members' questions, showing very irresponsible attitude in the parliamentary inspection of the administration. As a chair of the ministry that governs administrations on employment and labor, he must express a formal position of the government in the meeting with us. On behalf of 300,000 domestic workers, we request to the government as follow.

 

 First, the article 11 clause 1 in the Labor Standard Act, which excludes domestic workers from the scope of application of the law, must be deleted!

 Second, the law protecting domestic workers must be legislated immediately!

 Third, stable work environment where domestic workers can work safely must be created!

 Fourth, public assistance for single-parent, dual-earner, and low-income families must be expanded!

 Fifth, the government must establish policies that cultivate non-profit domestic service provider organizations!



November 6th, 2015


Members of the National House Managers’ Cooperation, YWCA Korea, and the National Domestic Workers Association

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National House Managers Cooperation and Korean Women Workers Association


 We have been struggling to stand against the gendered perception of domestic work, that the works is women's worker, and to locate the work in the right place. We debunked that it is against the social justice and discriminatory that the domestic work is not protected by the labor law and thus the law does not protect workers' human rights. Above all, we have been struggling to change the social perception of domestic workers by calling them 'house managers' instead of ' domestics' or 'helpers', in order to gain social recognition of the work. We contributed to the adoption of The Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers in ILO in 201, playing a significant role in protecting domestic workers' human rights and labor rights.

 

 However, in reality, domestic service is provided without a proper contract. As a result, the industry is ruled by a grab-bag approach which often cause conflicts between the workers and clients. Domestic workers work 4 hours for a client, and the 4-hours work has no clear job description. This leads workers to work without a break or to work too much, causing chronic illness related to the work. On the other hand, clients experience difficulties in choosing services they need, as they have different preferences and expectations.

 


 To address this issue, the National House Managers' Cooperation,  Korean Women Workers Association, the workers , and researchers conducted a research project to develop a job manual for domestic work in 2014.  Based on the project, we developed; ▲ a job manual, which defines a boundary of domestic service and time that is need for the each services; ▲  rules that governs rights and obligations of both service providers and recipients; ▲ the Terms and Conditions for domestic service and the Standard Contract for Domestic Service. 


 As from today's press conference, we will carry on a public campaign to promote the wide usage of the contract, in order to protect the workers' human rights and rights of the clients. In addition, our workers will sign the contract with their actual clients. By writing the contract, we want;  ▲ to improve the social perception of domestic work; ▲to change the wildly used but denigrating terms referring domestic workers to house manager;▲ to re-evaluate the value of domestic work, which has long been devalued; ▲to recover self esteem of domestic workers by declaring them as workers; ▲to guarantee the rights and the obligations of workers and clients; ▲to re-locate domestic work in this society. 


 Wishing that domestic work is respected as an important job, we request the government to play more active role in settling down the practice of writing the contract. 



July 2nd, 2015 


National House Managers Cooperation, Korean Women Workers Association.

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