June 8, 2016 at 11 a.m. In Gwanghwamun Square, workers for Social Service Vouchers gathered. Korea Caring Cooperative Council, Korean Women Workers Association held a press conference calling for the improvement of the treatment of Social Services Vouchers workers. At the press conference, they addressed the poor working conditions of Social Service Voucher workers.

 

 The Social Service Voucher Program is a welfare project provided by the government for those who need care such as persons with disabilities, patients and the elderly. The government subcontracts the private sector as a source agency and entrusts dispatch and management of workers. Most of the care workers are women.

 

 The amount of money the government provides to subcontracting private agencies by the hour is called fees. It includes retirement allowances, weekly benefits, and payment for annual leave, 4 major insurances, administrative expenses as well as hourly wages. The agencies must cover all the wages and operating costs within the fees. The problem is that the fees are too low. Fees for nursing home care, care for the elderly is 9,800 won and 9,000 won for caring of persons with disabilities. While nursing home care and care for the elderly can be paid by minimum wage, but the situation is worse for care workers for the persons with disabilities. There’s no room for operating cost and the agencies are in the red by the rate of 169 won per hour.

 

 Hye-yeon Yoon, chairperson of the Korea Caring Cooperative Council, said, "We can only work when we cand afford to eat and dress and sleep. The minimum wage must be guaranteed. The state is responsible for this.“



 But the Ministry of Health and Welfare has handed over all the responsibilities to the agencies. Chang In-Soon, an assistant for the persons with disabilities said, “I do not know how the fees are calculated.” She also shouted, “Why should our care workers have to work two or three jobs for a handful of one million won every month,” and “How much is the value of our work?”



 "I am a single parent with a children of 11th grade," said Baek Ok-yang, an elderly care voucher worker. She said, “I am not a volunteer but the person with responsibilities to feed my family.” According to her, the job is highly unstable because the elderly repeat entering and leaving the hospital and easily change their schedule. “This affects livelihood of the workers as they cannot be paid when there is no opportunity to work,” she added.



 There were also complaints against users who demanded excessive work. Services users even requested to change the work just because they prefer people without glasses or chubby body. Some asked the workers to make garlic pickles for their daughter and son-in-law and others asked for kimchi for their children. There are users who consider care workers as their maid.


 But the workers are bound to accept these unjust demands. If they refuse, the users can request replacement of the worker or even the agency. This was all caused by marketization of the government, which has been introduced in the name of providing quality services through competition. As the competition between private actors intensifies the users gain more control over the workers. Respect for the workers are found nowhere.

 

 The organizers of the conference raised the issue of Social Service Vouchers Program including undervaluation of care work, low fees, job instability, loss of public interest, lack of protection system for workers. Participants urged the government to take the responsibility as an ultimate boss and apologize for underpaid minimum wages as well as pay unpaid wages.

 

 Lastly, the performance of putting a blow to the punch ball was presented. The ball read, "minimum wage violation, the real boss is the government." One participant shouted, "I am the puppet boss and the government is the real president!" The real boss is the government. It is the responsibility of the government.




[Press Conference] We demand better treatment for Social Service Vouchers Workers

 

 The government is taking the lead in minimum wage violation!

 

 Since 2007, the government has been conducting support programs for persons with disabilities as one of the Social Service Voucher Programs. In 2016, the government pays 9,000 won per hour. Based on the minimum wage of KRW 6,030, KRW 9,169 per hour is required to be able to cover four social insurances, weekly holiday pay, annual leave pay, and severance pay. Due to the nature of the supporting program, there are workers who work for a long time more than 200 hours per month. When they work overtime, they must receive 13,754 won per hour. However the government has set a limit of 9,000 won per hour. Nevertheless, the government has consistently maintained the minimum line as 6,800 won without paying much attention. The government is leading the way in violating the minimum wage.

 

 For the Social Service Voucher Program, the government is only responsible to set and execute the budget, entrusting actual tasks to the private sector. Therefore, the government-funded support agencies have to either pay the minimum wage of less than 6,800 won or endure a huge deficit. With this kind of structure, it is impossible not only to provide sustainable quality service resulting in sacrifices of the assistant workers. As of 2015, there are 65,300 assistants for people with disabilities in the country. All of them are victims of the government's minimum wage violation.

 

 Currently, women work in the vast majority of care jobs. Most of workers in governmental Social Services Vouchers, such as elderly care and nursing home care, as well as assistance for people with disabilities are women. The fees for this program is also at the minimum wage level. The society’s poor perception on women's care work is reflected in the government's social service programs, which is taking the low wages of care workers for granted.

 

 We strongly protests the minimum wage violation for women care workers and demand the followings:

 

 First, the government must apologize for violating the minimum wage for personal assistants for the persons with disabilities and pay the unpaid wages immediately.

Second, the government must raise the fees of assistance for the persons with disabilities.

 


June 8, 2016

Korean Women Workers Association, Korea Care Cooperative Association Council


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Posted by KWWA

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