Currently, the governmental committee is discussing the minimum wage to be applied in 2017. Users are requesting to apply different minimum wage depending on the industry. According to their demand, payment below minimum standard is allowed in 7 industries out of 21, including wholesale and retail, transport, accommodation, restaurant, real estate, business support, arts and sports, and other personal services.


 They claim that these industries are not able to pay for personnel expenses and the portion of short-time workers is bigger comparing to other industries. They also argue that most of workers in the 7 industries work for supplementary income, rather than making a living.


 However, we can find large corporations such as department stores, large marts, condominiums, hotels, large restaurants, entertainment bars, manpower supply business, and air transportation. In spite of the large scale of the businesses, they are employing irregular workers through indirect employment to lower the wages. Also, wage is not a primary factor for the ability to pay for small businesses. What needs to be addressed is increasing rents, fees of the franchise headquarters, unfair transactions of the subcontracting. Lowering the wage should not be a solution for financial restrictions.


 Among various reasons why there are many short-time workers, the biggest reason is that the users hire irregular workers to avoid employment of regular workers. The workers usually don’t get to choose the type of employment. Also, the wage is used to make a living, even if it is spent as supplementary income. All workers choose to work dreaming of a more relaxed life. Whether the money is spent on a cup of coffee or a meal, everything is connected to the worker’s life.


 But are the user’s representatives telling all the reasons? We doubt if they are hiding their real intentions.


 The Korea Women Workers' Association looked at the minimum wage workers in the industry through statistics of March 2016. The number of workers who belong to the minimum wage range (90-110% minimum wage) in our country is 1,846,000. These workers are immediately affected by the rise and fall of the minimum wage. On the other hand, the number of workers in the seven industries whose wage is demanded to be paid below current minimum wage is 1,158,000, taking up 62.7% of the total workers. In fact, low-wage workers are concentrated on seven industries. Adjusting the standard for the 7 sectors can cause lowering the wage of 62.7% of the workers in the minimum wage range.


 More surprisingly, the number of workers in the minimum wage range decreases to 1.56 million when we exclude sectors that user representatives have no direct interest such as health and social welfare services, public administration and social security administration, education service industry, agro-fishery, and employment in households. Among the 1.56 million workers, the proportion of workers in the 7 industries reaches 76.9%. Reducing the minimum wage for the 7 industries leads to lowering the minimum wage in general. This is what the user representatives are secretly aiming for.


 The consequences of reduced minimum wage will be even worse for women workers. The proportion of women who receive minimum wages is 64%. The high proportion of women among low-wage workers is caused by undervaluing the value of women's labor and abusing non-regular workers. Among women workers who are affected by the minimum wage, the proportion of female workers working in the seven industries is 61.8%. The proportion increases up to 79.9% if we exclude the sectors that users have no direct interest. If the minimum wage is differently applied, female workers will bear the burden of dual discrimination.


 Paying the minimum wage differently is part of a plan to create distrust between the workers. The intension of dividing workers into nano-sized particles for better control is behind this policy. On the 23rd, tomorrow, the Minimum Wage Committee will address this issue. If the tricks of the user’s representatives are accepted at the committee, they will face strong resistance of women workers.



<Scope of Minimum Wage Workers by Industry (Sorted in descending order)>

Unit: persons
Source: National Statistical Office economic activity census (March, 2016)





I. Accommodation and restaurant business




G. Wholesale and Retail




C. Manufacturing




N. Business Facilities Management and Business Support Services




Q. Health and social welfare services




S. Associations and organizations, repair and other personal services




F. Construction




P. Educational Services




H. Transportation




O. Public Administration, Defense and Social Security Administration




R. Arts, sports and leisure services




L. Real estate and leasing




A. Agriculture, forestry and fisheries




M. Professional, scientific and technical services




K. Finance and insurance




J. Publishing, Video, Broadcasting and Information Service




T. Employment activity in households and self-produced production activities not otherwise classified



D. Electricity, gas, steam and water supply business




E. Sewage and waste disposal, recycling of raw materials and restoration of environment




B. Mining

U. International and Foreign Organizations





Posted by KWWA

 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

Posted by KWWA

 Are women always disqualified in the labour market?



 The recession is prolonged. Employers are considering voluntary retirement and restructuring. In the meantime, there are more and more female workers who are being resigned without somewhat secretly. Since 2014, the financial sector has undergone structural restructuring in the form of voluntary retirement and revising contract for irregular employment. There were cases of counselling where some companies encouraged women workers, especially women workers who have taken maternity leave to voluntarily resign. Hyundai Heavy Industries also had women workers voluntarily resign, especially those who have been working long period, at a large scale in 2015. Call for Equality(1670-1611) steadily receives calls from female workers who are hanging on the cliff of voluntary retirement.


 Ms. A got a call by the company during her maternity leave. The employer said she could be paid retirement allowance if she retires immediately after the maternity leave, while she is at the risk of being fired for low performance in case of rejection. She had been working for the company for 15 years. She ended up adding her name on the list of voluntary retirees.


 As seen in the case of Ms. A, there is an increasing number of ways to exert pressure on female workers to dismiss women for pregnancy and childbirth. In order to overcome the low birthrate, the government tried to prevent the disadvantages caused by pregnancy and childbirth for female workers in various ways. However, under the name of labor reform, companies are pressing workers to resign by using the guideline on dismissal of low performers since last year,


 Women workers are the first to be laid off when a financial crisis approaches. This has been repeated over and over again in history. During IMF economic crisis, being a woman was a explicit reason for dismissal. In 1998, 91.2% of calls for counseling received by Call for Equality were about working condition. Back then, maternal rights, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment in the workplace were hardly addressed. These ‘slaughtered’ regular female workers were forced to work for the same position with half of the wage they used to receive as irregular workers.


 Female workers were the ones who sharply decreased during the financial crisis from the end of 2007. The difference, however, was that the dismissal was secretly practiced. During the IMF economic crisis, regular women workers’ posts were replaced by various types of irregular workers, such as temporary workers, daily workers, part-time workers, dispatched workers, and service workers. Irregular workers functioned as a safety net that can absorb risks in every recession or economic crisis. Because the contract was terminated through a 'fair' procedure of termination, workers were not able to fight against it. The fact that 75% of the jobs lost during the 2007 financial crisis were female jobs also implies that the restructuring was discrimination against women in nature.


 Although the recent economic recession has been prolonged and corporate restructuring has begun to take off, statistics have yet to reveal the impact on women workers. On the contrary, statistics for March 2016 show that the increase in female employees is more than that of the same month of last year. Most of them, however, are women in their fifth and sixth decades who entered in the labor market because of financial difficulty. They have no choice but to accept hourly, irregular jobs and work at low wages.


 Working condition for female workers is worsening, considering that the majority of female workers are irregular workers, and the gender wage gap is also increasing every year. This was accelerated by recent trend in increasing hourly jobs for women to boost employment rate of women. In such a vulnerable situation, female workers who wish to contribute to the household in the prolonged recession period are repeatedly taking precarious jobs and being asked to leave the jobs.


 Ms. B might have to move the department against her will. There will be a team reorganization next week and rumors are circulating that only 4 women of the team will be transferred. The department in question is known to accommodate soon-to-retire workers for a short period.


 The case of Ms. B is not directly caused by gender discrimination in a practical sense as the transfer to the unimportant department also involves male workers. But one can reasonably doubt the company’s intension reflecting the existing practices of placing women workers to the petty department which usually leads to workers’ resignation.


 Tae-im Kim, the head of the Call for Equality said, “Never write a resignation letter when you are asked resignation and not going to work because of anger doesn’t help because it is an unauthorized absence.” She also advised to calm down and consult with labor organizations.


 During the IMF crisis, women were laid off because they were women and women workers are not the primary earners in the family. Still in 2016, the employers are forcing workers to voluntarily leave the company under the name of layoffs on low performers. The blade of dismissal is aiming at women with more cunning lies.

Posted by KWWA

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