Past June 18, about 30 people gathered together in front of National Assembly House. They were putting on yellow or blue aprons and bandanas, which made them more passionate and impressive on that strong sunny day.

 

They were holding hand pickets saying ‘Ratify the ILO Domestic Workers Convention!' and 'Reform the Labor Standard Act!'

 

Korean Care workers NGO Network including National Cooperative of House Managers (NCHM) and Korean Women Workers Association held a press conference to demand the Korean government to ratify the convention in celebration of the 1st anniversary of its establishment. In addition, the press conference was also designed to call for the reform of the Labor Standard Act and the amendment of the Industrial Accident Insurance Act and the Employment Insurance Act to protect home care workers, but they couldn't be passed in the past 18th National Assembly.

 

The press conference started with 'the Action Report for the ratification of ILO Domestic Workers Convention' by the Park Seung-hee, a president of Women's Committee, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). She said "Uruguay ratified the ILO Domestic Workers Convention in last April, which was the first in the world, and other 13 countries such as Germany and Italy have submitted their proposed convention to their Parliaments." Next, Yoon Hyeryeon, the chairperson of NCHM reported 'legal reform activities for protect home care workers and caregivers for sick people.' She said "In September 2010, we proposed the Hoe-based Care Workers' Legal Protection Act (in the Employment Insurance Act, Industrial Accident Insurance Act, Labor Standard Act and Act related to levying a tax on insurances) but the Home-based Care Workers' Legal Protection Act was automatically rejected because the 18th term of National Assembly was finished. Korean Care workers NGO Network will continue working hard to help pass the act in the 19th term of the National Assembly."

 

Then, home-based care workers who are experiencing many kinds of accidents and insecure employment spoke their harsh situations. Kim Yongsoon, chairperson of the Korea Domestic Worker's Association and Cha Seung-hee, branch president of Care Workers, belonging to the Korean Healthcare Workers' Trade Union said "home care workers and care givers for the sick are suffering from very poor working conditions, without receiving the minimum social protections." and claimed "The government should protect the rights to work for in-home workers."

 

After that, participants joined the balloon-popping performances, which means to improve the working conditions and the social awareness of care workers, through the ratification of ILO Domestic Workers Convention and the reforming of the Labor Standard Act. Lastly, a statement was released to the press.

 

 

<Statement>

 

In celebration of the establishment of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, we strongly demand the Korean government to ratify the convention.

 

Korean Care workers NGO Network demands the government and 19th terms of the National Assembly to actively ratify the ILO Domestic Workers Convention and reform the related laws, in order to play an important role in securing the right to work and job security for care workers.

 

Last year, at the ILO meeting in Geneva, 'ILO Convention on fundamental human rights for domestic workers,' the last crucial issue the international labor society was established by an absolute majority of votes, and so, more than one hundred million home workers became 'decent workers.' Accordingly, the world community established an international standard to protect non-discriminatory rights to work and social protection rights for care workers, equal to other workers.

 

However, even though a year has been passed by, since the establishment of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, the Korean government has not talked of the ILO convention or the ways to reform the relevant domestic laws, at all.

 

In Korea, care workers in the care service sector including home care workers and care givers for the sick rose up to 500,000 persons. However, 300,000 home-based care workers except some working in the formal sector have not received any legal protection. Care workers in the informal sector are suffering from many kinds of hazards and accidents and unemployment, because basic social safety nets such as industrial accident insurance and employment insurance are not applied to them.

 

This is because the Labor Standard Act doesn't cover home-based care workers, for the government views them as domestic helpers. However, domestic workers are also clearly workers working for wages. Nevertheless, the government is stubborn, under the pretext that domestic workers work at an individual home, a private space, where the government states it is difficult for the government to intervene and it is unclear to determine what relationship domestic workers have. The government insisted that domestic workers are not workers, on the ground of 'Exclusion Clause to domestic helpers,' Article 11 of the 60 year-old Labor Standard Act.

 

There are increasing demands for care work in the Korean society due to women's social participation and its rapid transition into the aging society. We cannot neglect the fact that the number of home-based care workers comes to 300,000 persons in our society any more, in spite of the government's pretext that they work in the informal sector. The care workers who participate in the government's projects are covered by the Labor Standard Act and Social insurance, which clearly shows that care workers are equally workers.

 

We firmly demand the government and 19th term of the National Assembly not to leave domestic workers in the indiscreet informal sector. We also demand them to protect the right to work and job security for home-based care workers, through the ratification of ILO Domestic Workers Convention and Reformation of the Labor Standard Act and Social Insurance Act, which can be a good opportunity that new decent jobs are available in our society experiencing a shortage of jobs.

 

 

○ The government should ratify the ILO Domestic Workers Convention promptly!!

○ The government should remove the 'exclusion clause to domestic helpers' and apply the Labor Standard Act to home-based care workers!!

○ The government should apply Industrial Accident Insurance Act and Employment Insurance Act to home-based care workers!!

 

June 18, 2012
Korean Care workers NGO Network

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Posted by KWWA

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