Last October 18, Moon Jae In government announced <5 year job policy roadmap>. It is an outcome of the government’s prompt action such as announcing forming an employment committee as the first president directive, claiming to be a ‘president for jobs’ and putting job policy as the most priority. At the press release, the government accounts that <5 year job policy roadmap> is ‘to present an action plan over the upcoming 5 years by concretizing job tasks presented in 5 year plan on government affairs, and an policy guideline to establish the direction of job policy in future.’ This newly announced <5 year job policy roadmap> is an indicator to show the philosophy and direction of new government’s labor policy and would influence women thoroughly. Then is the <5 year job policy roadmap> able to get rid of gender discrimination widespread in the labor market? In short, the answer is “No”

 

This roadmap has limitations in establishing policy, by placing woman as a part of target groups to be addressed, not as underlying agenda, and by limiting the way to address woman(gender) issue only to dissolving ‘career break’ caused by pregnancy, delivery, and child rearing.

However, women’s ‘career breaks’ is due to rather gender discrimination in our society than pregnancy/delivery or child rearing. As woman remain still as a main person in charge of care work at home and there is widespread gender discrimination in the labor market, majority of women work as non-standard workers at secondary work. Since the work is something minor they never feel the lack of the work when they quit, it is an occupation at low position with no future nor promotion, and it is paid only as the same as the cost to be paid for child care center, women can’t help but leave labor market voluntarily and involuntarily. Considered the situation of women’ work, it would be not appropriate to regard it as ‘career break’. It is because, noted when we expect the future we would manage our career, the majority of women don’t even have decent work worthy of being managed for career. From this point of view, it should be prioritized to resolve the matter of ‘employment discontinuity’, not of concern on ‘career break’.

 

Women suffer over the labor market due to gender-discriminatory culture which tolerates and aids and abets gender discriminatory employment practice. As a result, women are concentrated on ‘bad job’ with low pay and poor working condition. As far as women are concerned, the key of job problem is ‘gender discrimination’ throughout the whole process from recruitment, placement, promotion, and to retirement. Therefore, it should be prioritized to eliminate discrimination against women through rectifying gender discrimination at employment, not through ‘a target customized policy’.  But the announced <5 year job policy roadmap> doesn’t present any plan on this. It is irony that there is no gender equality on policy of government that the president promises to be a feminist. The government must establish gender equality labor policy based on gender equal philosophy!!!

 

2017. 10. 23

 

Korean Women Workers Association

Posted by KWWA

 

 

The hope of Yellow Apron, Not 'market vitalization' but 'people' is the first! Hold a joint press conference to table a bill of 'domestic worker respect Act'.

 

 

 

KWWA and NHMC, together with a member of National Assembly, Lee Jeong Mi, has had a joint press conference to table a bill to improve the employment of domestic workers at Jeong Lon Gwan at National Assembly on 26th.

 

Lee Jeong Mi(Justice party, a member of Environment and Labor Committee) announced "table a bill Act for respect on domestic workers(Act on improvement of employment of domestic workers) in order to protect the labor right of domestic workers and promote public vitalization of domestic service industry” at the conference.   

 

At the conference, 10 delegates in yellow aprons stepped on the platform with hand placard stating key provisions of Act for respect on domestic workers. The 10 delegates are heads of 5 regional branches of NHMC(Lee Jin Sim, president of NHMC·head of Seoul branch, Shim Ok Seob, head of Incheon branch, Kim Yeon Ja, head of Bucheon branch, Kim Jae Soon, head of Ansan branch, Yoon Hyeon Mi, head of Suwon branch), domestic workers, chair of KWWA(Yim Yoon ok), Seoul branch chair of KWWA(Son Young Joo), Incheon branch chair of KWWA(Park Myeong Sook), Suwon branch chair of KWWA(Kim Kyeong Hee).  

 

ILO adopted the ‘Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers’ (Convention on Domestic Workers) in 2011 and has been requesting its member states to recognize the labor status of domestic workers whose number around the world reaches 100 millions. Also, last January, National Human Right Commission of Korea recommended provide standardized contract form to protect working condition, produce and provide customer manual to protect human rights application of unemployment insurance and industrial accident compensation insurance ratification of ILO convention on domestic workers and elimination of Article 11 of Labor Standard Act which excludes domestic workers from its application.

 

In line with the recommendation, the bill proposed by Rep. Lee includes, apart from eradication of unfair treatment to domestic workers, ▲promotion and support of public agency to offer decent job for domestic workers and good domestic service, ▲provide domestic service to vulnerable social group such as single parent household, low income two earner household, ▲guarantee minimum 15hour working per week for domestic workers to secure rights by Labor Standard Act. such as annual leave and weekly holiday and to join social security.

 

Rep. Lee Jeong mi addressed “as a cook at school is not a Ajumma to cook, domestic workers are not helper ajummas” and promised “to make every effort to procure the passage of the act for new Republic of Korea where labor is dignified and any labor of no one is not ignored.”

 

 

 

 

Lee Jin Sim, who is the president of NHMC and herself a domestic worker, represented domestic workers at the conference and expressed gratitude to Rep. Lee Jeong mi. She condemned pre-announced government bill <Act on improvement on domestic workers employment> saying “it is a bill which fail to make any progress from the 2015 government bill with problems. Lee Jin Sim urged the government and National Assembly to enact a legislation covering human rights and labor rights of domestic workers, the number of which reaches 300,000, including ▲obligation of user, actual employer ▲obligation of user and agency to abide by labor related legislations ▲restriction on exploitation of domestic workers’ wage, and abolish the provision, Article 11, Clause 1 of the Labor Standards Act which rules out application of Labor Standards Act toward domestic workers.

 

Yim Woon OK, standing chair of KWWA, who has been together with NHMC over the last decade to attain human rights and labor rights for domestic workers, pointed out “it is a gender discrimination that the Labor Standard Act which enacted in 1953 rules out its application to domestic workers, 99% of them are women”. She added “It should not be applied selectively in the name of the nature of the work, domestic work, but applied thoroughly considering its nature. If not, this would be another discrimination”, and “the government bill is profoundly problematic because domestic workers are not subjected to the labor Standard Act.” She also emphasized criticism on the government bill which only requires making efforts to provide 15hours work per week to domestic workers, stating “it is more problem that current Labor Standard Act doesn’t recognize being a worker to a worker who works less than 15hours per week, and don’t secure application of unemployment insurance and industrial accident compensation insurance, severance pay, a recess, an annual leave.” She added that “if employment agency is recognized as an actual employer, as it is the service provider, it is needed to impose an obligation of employer.”

 

Yoon Hyeon Mi, the chair of NHMC Suwon branch, who works as a domestic worker, explained “we get treatment, with entirely our own money, for any injury and illness which we get at work, such as getting a cut on a broken glass organizing a garbage bag, breaking their ankle cleaning a bathroom, for the sole reason that we are not workers.” She complained “it is not understandable that we are not workers, though we work as other workers and get paid out of the work”, and “we want National Health insurance and Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance to be applied for us too as others.” She urged “we hope that the Rep. Lee Jeong Mi’s bill which reflect domestic workers opinion are enacted.”

 

At the closing remarks, Kim Kyeong Hee, Suwon branch chair of KWWA, said “when a society recognize the value of an work and well built with right working condition, good service (work) would be expected” and “a bus driver in Norway receives respect socially and get paid as much as a professor in a university. So a bus driver is proud of themselves as they are responsible for passengers’ lives and no overtime for them. Consequently there is no moment of raising voice or a fight in a bus. Like this, a respect on labor is essential” quoted Park No Ja who is a professor in Oslo University. She also emphasized “for the respect toward domestic workers, it is critical to have a right legislation.”

 

NHMC and KWWA paved the way of legislation to secure human rights and labor rights for domestic workers in 2015. And today, the bill made by domestic workers is labeled <Act for respect on domestic workers> through Rep. Lee Jeong Mi, a member of National Assembly. From now on, we will move on to make the bill pass through and become an enacted Law to ensure actually the human rights and labor rights of domestic workers at 20th Assembly.

 

 Act for respect on domestic workers” is to put ‘people’ on priority, not for ‘market vitalization’!

 

 

 

Posted by KWWA

At Gwanghwamun Plaza on Monday, May 11th, 2017. Twenty three NGOs for women workers, including Korean Women Workers Association and Korean Women's Trade Union, led a campaign called "No Pay from Today!" as to declare their will to break wage discrimination against non­regular women workers.

 

 

 

 

 

During the campaign, Ms. Younok Lim (standing representative, Korean Women Workers Association) said, "President Moon's government is not the one for the present ruling party, but the one for all of us, who rallied against the corrupt former government." Ms. Lim added, "If President Moon is really concerned about gender inequality and employment issues as he has declared himself, he must be the president for the non­regular women workers. This is the time to deeply care about equality and justice in their wages and working conditions."

 

Ms. Younok Lim (standing representative, Korean Women Workers Association) Korean Women Workers Association

 

Ms. Jihyeon Na (president, Korean Women's Trade Union) said, "non­regular women workers are one of the most marginalized in our society." and "President Moon already promised he would do his best to relieve discrimination against non­regular workers and to reduce gender wage gap at least to the average level of OECD countries."

 

Ms. Jihyeon Na (president, Korean Women's Trade Union) Korean Women Workers Association

 

In the campaign, Ms. Jeongi Lee (care worker, Share & Care Social Cooperative) pointed out care workers' inferior working conditions saying, "Even though it is tough to take care of patients, our hourly wages are just at the minimum wage level. This March, our pay got cut by 25% 'cause our working hours for some elderly patients got decreased from four to three hours, according to the new policy of National Health Insurance Service. These days, our monthly pay is only 8~900,000 Korean won (about 800 US dollars) for working six hours a day." She also criticized policy problems saying, "Due to the government policy, care workers for the disabled can not be given even the minimum wages, which makes many of care organizations give up their business."

 

Ms. Jeongi Lee (care worker, Share & Care Social Cooperative) Korean Women Workers Association

 

 

Ms. Huisuk Kim (leader at Sogang Univ. Branch, Seoul Office, Korean Women's Trade Union) talked about her difficulties at work saying, "I am a cleaning worker, and everyday, I have to get up at 4 AM to go to work. I'm working all in sweat even during the winter, but at the end of the month, all I got is 1,400,000 Korean won (about 1,300 US dollars)." She also criticized serious wage discrimination based on gender and employment status, and said, "An enormous wage gap between genders and between regular and non­regular workers seems like the modern caste system."

 

Ms. Huisuk Kim (leader at Sogang Univ. Branch, Seoul Office, Korean Women's Trade Union) Korean Women Workers Association

 

 

Mr. Gwangseok Kim, who introduced himself as a male non­regular worker, talked about his precarious working conditions as a night shift parttime worker at a convenience store; although his pay is just above the minimum wage, he can not ask his boss for higher pay, as it will probably make him fired right away. However, he saw himself still privileged as he, as a male worker, did not know much about difficulties his female coworkers were facing such as their stress from customers’ condescending attitudes and sexual harassment, or fear of going home at midnight, which he thought all showed South Korean society had a long way to go for gender equality.

 

 

Mr. Gwangseok Kim (male non­regular part­time worker) Korean Women Workers Association

 

Ms. Gahyeon Lee, the president of Arbeit Workers Union (a trade union of parttime workers in South Korea) talked about employment notice she recently saw; for the same job, it was offering permanent positions only for men, and temporary positions only for women. She said, “even though female parttime workers are facing lots of difficulties at work, such as emotional labor at a call center or information desk, sexual harassment, and verbal abuse, they are not given enough pay and social respect.” She also criticized sexual discrimination at work, saying “a recent survey shows 97% of female parttime workers are required to put on makeup on their job, which makes them spend their own money to buy cosmetics for work. Finally she added, “achieving human rights is not something to put off.”

 

 

Ms. Gahyeon Lee, the president of Arbeit Workers Union Korean Women Workers Association

 

After these statements, the campaign participants carried out a performance in which they smashed placards symbolizing wage discrimination based on gender and employment status. Inspired by a film Kill Bill, women workers in a yellow jumpsuit went first, which was followed by the other participants who smashed their own placard in the performance. On this day, similar campaigns and performances against the wage discrimination were simultaneously carried out also in the other cities over the country, such as Jeonju, Gwangju, Daegu, Gyeongju, and Busan.

 

 

 

‘The Smashing Performance’ Korean Women Workers Association

 

 

As of now, while men regular workers’ average monthly wage is 3,440,000 Korean Won (about 3,200 US Dollars), women nonregular workers’ is 1,230,000 Korean Won (about 1,200 US Dollars), which is below the level of minimum wage. Given average income for the men regular workers is 100, that for the women nonregular workers is about 36 (35.8%).

 

As of now, while men regular workers’ average monthly wage is 3,440,000 Korean Won (about 3,200 US Dollars), women nonregular workers’ is 1,230,000 Korean Won (about 1,200 US Dollars), which is below the level of minimum wage. Given average income for the men regular workers is 100, that for the women nonregular workers is about 36 (35.8%).

 

On last International Women’s Day, Korean Women Workers Association carried out a rally to urge participants to leave work early, as part of South Korean women labor organizations’ joint campaign 'Stop at 3 o'clock!’ to fight against the gender wage gap in South Korea. Gender wage gap in South Korea, 100:63, is so high that it ranks as the worst among the OECD countries, but this is the mere ratio of male workers’ average income to female workers’.

 

Compared to the male workers, the female workers are more likely to be employed as nonregular workers as well as to be given lower income; a half of all women workers in South Korea are nonregular workers. The wage gap gets even higher to 100:36, when comparing regular male workers’ income to nonregular female workers’. This huge wage gap can not be simply explained by the difference in gender and employment status. Therefore, we argue that one of the best ways to fight against the gender wage gap is to tackle the problem that a large number of women workers are employed as nonregular workers.

 

Given the wage gap of 100:36, it could be regarded that women nonregular workers work for free from the 11th of May every year, and this is why this day is chosen for the campaign ‘No Pay from Today!.’ Until the discriminationbased gender wage gap gets zero, we, Korean Women Workers Association and the campaign participants will do our best to end the gender wage gap in South Korea.

 

 

 

 

Posted by KWWA

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