[Statement] We condemn the NIS’s election scandal as violation of democracy!

 

We as the female worker denounce the NIS’s meddling in presidential election! It is an infringement on democracy.

 

A growing number of people are condemning ‘the NIS’s intervention in the election’ and ‘the police’s attempt to downplay and conceal the investigation into the NIS scandal’ and are demanding a parliamentary probe into the NIS incident.

 

None of the government, politicians, and the media has not performed its role adequately after it was confirmed that the intelligence agency unprecedentedly meddled in the presidential election.

 

Prosecutors revealed that the intelligence agents posted about 70 comments online during the presidential election. In the past six months, the police tried to downplay and cover up the scandal, but some comments were found to describe left-leaning candidates as North Korea sympathizers below unfavorable online postings for the ruling party. The former NIS leader Won Sei-hoon, however, was merely indicted without detention. Earlier, a document was found to order to overpower Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon.

 

The incident of the NIS, an government agency directly responsible to the president, is astonishing because the agency’s meddling in the election, which is the foundation of democracy, and interfering in politics violates the Constitution and tramples on democracy. Students, citizens, and religious groups have stepped up to issue statements urging for a parliamentary probe and have held candlelight vigils, but the police has suppressed their movement with tear gas.

 

Meanwhile, the NIS has disclosed the transcript of a 2007 inter-Korean summit and has attempted to distort public opinion.

 

President Park has not responded to the violation of democracy which was defended by blood and death, but told that the South should never forget the importance of the border, the Northern Limit Line, which was defended by blood and death of young people, regarding the release of the transcript.

 

The big ruling Saenuri party has denied the result of the investigation saying the prosecutor’s investigation has a leap of logic, and has claimed that the prosecutor was once a political activist. The party has gone to the length of these non-sense behaviors because it understands that this allegation may put her legitimacy in question.

 

An election is rigged if a government agency intervenes to make the ruling party have the upper hand. Moreover, it is more than difficult to conduct state affairs in the right direction when some claim that the president should step down.

 

A parliamentary probe is the minimal action that should be taken. The probe should reveal the truth and the people involved should be punished accordingly.

 

The Park’s administration should not forget the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of Nixon after Nixon was found to surveil the opposition party’s candidates by media coverage. The Watergate scandal was covered by persistent report of the media, but unfortunately the media in Korea today keeps silent.

 

We will no longer keep silent. We learned from experience that women’s rights to labor and live will take a step backwards when democracy is violated. We will let all female workers know the scandal and will defend the democracy we achieved. To make a democratic and righteous society, Korean Women Workers Association and Korean Women’s Trade Union will band together with people at candlelight vigils all over the country.

 

- Our Demands -

Launch a parliamentary probe into the NIS’s meddling in the election!

Conduct custody investigation and punish the people involved in the election meddling and the scandal cover-up!

President Park must take responsibility for the NIS scandal!

Ensure democracy that was achieved by democratization movement!

 

June 26, 2013

Korean Women Workers Association, Seoul Women Workers Association, Incheon Women Workers Association, Suwon Women Workers Association, Ansan Women Workers Association, Bucheon Women Workers Association, Jeonbuk Women Workers Association, Gwangju Women Workers Association, Daegu Women Workers Association, Kyungju Women Workers Association, Machang Women Workers Association, Pusan Women’s Association

Korean Women’s Trade Union

 

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Campaign on the occasion of International Domestic Workers Day

The Government and the National Assembly Should Ratify the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers - Provide protection of the law to domestic workers, and a high quality domestic service to the people!

 

On June 7, the German government finally became 2nd in Europe, 8th in the world, 2nd in the OECD countries to ratify the ILO convention concerning decent work for domestic workers. Domestic workers and the civil society organizations participating in the press conference today could not be more envious of the efforts of German government and lawmakers. On the other hand, the ILO report, entitled “domestic workers across the world,” released in January, expressed the concern over poor working conditions of household service workers in Korea. The report pointed out that Korean domestic workers are excluded from the protection of the law, find it difficult to apply for social insurance, and are paid less than the minimum wage. The Korean government voted for the convention concerning decent work for domestic workers at the 100th session of the International Labour Conference, but has not taken any step further.

 

The demand for household services is rapidly increasing due to change in family structure and population aging. Domestic work is outside the legal protection as it is still seen as ‘women’s work’ and ‘a work taking place in the private place.’ The government is supposed to address the problem, but rather takes a passive role in making measures to protect domestic workers on the grounds of the Labor Standard Act that does not recognize domestic workers as workers. The international community has started to implement various legal measures to protect domestic workers, but the Korean government reiterates that Korea has its own peculiarities.

 

On the occasion of International Domestic Workers Day, 300,000 domestic workers and related organizations urge for planning and urgent implementing to give quality jobs and the three basic labor rights to domestic workers by ratifying the ILO convention and revising the Labor Standard Act.

 

First, the Article 11 of the Labor Standard Act ‘Exclusion of Domestic Workers’ that does not recognize domestic workers as workers has to be revised. The article gave rise to the issue of equality in workers of the same care service industry, given the fact that care workers in the public sectors including social services are under the labor contract, protected by the Labor Standard Act and covered by social insurance. Therefore, by fundamentally reforming the Labor Standard Act, all service workers have to get legal protection as a worker.

 

Second, it is urgent for the government to establish a public employment support system for domestic workers. Household services are provided through the job agency in the private sector while employment support is one of the government’s primary responsibilities in the days of unemployment. Domestic workers have to pay a commission to find a job while they have poor living conditions with low wages. Domestic service users are not satisfied because the quality of domestic services is not managed. Therefore, the government has to put more efforts in expanding public non-profit job agencies and promoting non-profit organizations including cooperatives and social enterprises which are employing domestic workers as regular workers.

 

Third, it is top priority for the government to make industrial accident compensation insurance and unemployment insurance available to domestic workers. Domestic workers work and get paid under formal contract of employment, but are not eligible for 4 major social insurance, which is the minimal right of workers. They are not covered by industrial accident compensation insurance when they get injured on the job and are not covered by unemployment insurance when they unexpectedly lose their jobs. Domestic workers are outside the basic social security net such as industrial accident compensation insurance and unemployment insurance and taking the risk of all the accident and unemployment. To tackle the difficulty on the job immediately, the coverage of industrial accident compensation insurance and unemployment insurance should be expanded to include domestic workers. The government also has to take a firm stand on the issue and come up with a measure to protect labor rights of domestic workers.

 

Fourth, by launching a ‘social dialogue mechanism’ with domestic workers, users, and civil and labor groups, the government needs to show its sincerity toward a ratification of the ILO convention on decent work for domestic workers. The expansion of coverage of the Labor Standard Act and the efforts to ratify the ILO convention are precisely the way to reach social consensus. Therefore, we demand that the government should establish a social dialogue mechanism immediately to find ways to satisfy domestic service providers and users.

 

Once again, all participants here today urge for the government and the National Assembly to put more efforts for legal protection of domestic workers and convenience of household service users.

 

- The Korean government and the National Assembly must ratify the ILO Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers!

- Revise the Labor Standard Act’s article that excludes domestic workers

- The government must launch a public employment system for domestic workers!

 

June 12, 2013

Korean Care workers NGO Network

 

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Press Conference of Female Workers on Denouncement of the Government’s ‘Roadmap to a 70% Employment Rate’

 

We denounce the government’s roadmap to a 70% rate for not considering the quality of jobs and the equal labor right of women.

On June 4, the government unveiled “the Roadmap to a 70% Employment Rate” as a part of effort to usher in the era where everyone can work if they want. The details of the roadmap, however, show that the roadmap does not serve its purpose, but creates jobs with poor working conditions and weakens the labor right of women. Therefore, we, female workers, express our deep concern over the Park’s administration rolling out policies that do not reflect the reality while lacking understanding of the core issue of female workers.

According to the roadmap, extended working hours will be reduced and part-time jobs will be increased. Korea ranks second in average annual working hours in the OECD countries as of 2011. It is urgent to reduce working hours since workers have the right to have healthy working conditions and their rights are being violated with overtime and overwork. It is such a great idea to increase jobs and the employment rate by reducing working hours. The roadmap, however, does not include practical measures to decrease working hours, but focus solely on bringing the employment rate up to 70% by creating part-time jobs. It shows the government is not committed to reduction of working hours.

The government announced that ‘part-time jobs’ are key to the roadmap and will be promoted along. It reminds of a ‘purple job’ that the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family suggested in 2010. The ‘purple job’ was proposed to help women balance work and family by introducing flexible work arrangement, which is part-time work. It came under criticism for putting female workers in low wages and precarious working conditions under the name of ‘flexible work program.’ Despite the criticism in the past, the Park’s administration brought up the policy again that should have been abolished, saying new part-time jobs will be ‘decent,’ different from the ‘purple job.’ On the contrary to its claim, new decent part-time jobs are highly likely to be poor jobs. The administration said that part-time jobs will be promoted in the public sector from 2014. The public sector is supposed to be an example in implementing the right labor policy. It, however, takes a lead in supporting flexible hiring by pushing an employment of ‘part-time public officers’ and ‘part-time teachers.’

We do not claim that the part-time job itself is bad. To make part-time jobs secure, part-time jobs should meet basic requirements. The minimum wage of the part-time job should be set taking the living wage into account and part-time should be allowed to change to full-time. Working conditions like promotion and welfare benefits of part-timers also should be equivalent to that of full-timers. It is doubtful that the part-time job will fulfill these requirements since the current working condition of the part-time job is very poor. We oppose the government’s plan that pays attention only to raising the employment rate to 70% by increasing part-time jobs with poor working conditions while ignoring the basic requirements to be a secure job.

According to the roadmap, the administration is committed to a 10% increase of the employment rate of women, which is currently 50%. The employment rate for women cannot show improvement unless the quality of jobs is considered first. The policies that the government proposed focus on solely achieving a 70% employment rate and neglect the reality of female workers. For example, an ‘automatic maternity leave’ force women to take parental leave automatically when they take maternity leave. It makes only women take responsibility of child-rearing and, consequently, makes women take poor jobs. It will eventually drive women away from the labor market. The ‘parental leave’ is available to both male and female to balance work and family. The Park’s administration, however, reinforces an outdated thinking that parental leave is only for women by introducing ‘automatic maternity leave.’ To increase the employment rate of women, the government needs to create a social and institutional environment where female workers can participate in economic activities without the fear of career discontinuance and devise a policy to attract more men to child care.

The issue of female workers cannot be solved with a linear approach. The employment rate of women will remain low unless the government unveils a comprehensive and practical measure. A roadmap with hollow promises is not an answer. Therefore, after understanding the reality of female workers in many aspects, the government has to come up with a policy to provide decent jobs that guarantee equal labor rights to women. We denounce the government’s roadmap to a 70% employment rate for paying attention to only a number, and we will not stand by and let the Park’s administration have its own way.

 

June 11, 2013

Lawmaker Hong Young-pyo, Lawmaker Nam Yoon In-soon, Lawmaker Shim Sang-jung, Lawmaker Eun Soo-mi, Lawmaker Jang ha-na, Lawmaker Han Jung-ae, Korean Women’s Trade Union, Korea Women's Associations United, Korean Women Workers Association, Korea Women Link, Women’s Resources Development Center Union, Korea Care Service Workers Association

 

 

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[Comment] The Stance on a So-called ‘Extra Point System for Moms’

Does the ruling Saenuri Party think giving extra points is an answer? We oppose an extra point system that does not reflect the reality of job-seeking moms.

On April 15, the subcommittee on Environment and Labor Committee of the National Assembly deliberated a revised Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act proposed by lawmaker Shin Eui-jin of the Sarnuri Party. According to her proposal, extra points will be given to job-seeking moms who have career discontinuance due to pregnancy, childbirth, or childcare.

The first and biggest problem of the proposal is that it does not reflect the reality of female workers. Female workers are under pressure to quit when they get married or pregnant. Also, in reality, the system to promote work and family balance is of no avail. Too often working moms get unfair dismissal and suffer from disadvantages in employment just because they are ‘moms.’ What we need here first is not an approach that favors moms, but a society where the current Labor Standard Law and the Equal Employment Opportunity law that prohibits unfair dismissal and discrimination are observed. It is absurd to hire female workers with extra points after kicking them out with discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Second problem is that the extra point system for moms is confined to only a small portion of working moms. Most women with a career discontinuance take low-paying and precarious jobs that provide poor working conditions, while only a few working moms apply for employment support institutions. The approach does not consider the real labor market of women with career discontinuance.

Last, the system may give rise to another discrimination. There is no reasonable explanation why workers who have career discontinuance but not qualified for extra points, like female workers who left the job for reasons other than pregnancy, childbirth, or childcare, and male workers with career discontinuance due to childcare, should be considered secondary in the labor market. There is no reason to discriminate against male workers with childcare experience only because they did not give birth to a baby.

It is concerning that the approach is proposed not as a solution to eliminate the discrimination but as a stopgap that gives away extra points like dispensation. What is needed is a universal approach that can end the discrimination, not a limited system that favors one group and discriminates against another.

The Environment and Labor Committee of the National Assembly announced that the extra point system for job-seeking moms needed to be carefully examined. The committee has to go beyond just expressing its concern and come up with fundamental measures to address disadvantages that female workers may have in employment due to pregnancy, childbirth, or childcare. We oppose the extra point system that does not understand the real labor market of working moms.

 

April 17, 2013

Korean Women Workers Association/ Korea Women's Associations United/ Korean Women Link

 

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Press Conference on Female Irregular Workers of Schools

 

Change low wages paid to female irregular workers of schools by introducing a salary class system! End discrimination in schools!

A few days ago, an elementary school’s principal in Icheon was dismissed. He forced female workers in the school to drink alcohol and pour alcohol into his glass at after-work dining. In a job interview, he asked a female applicant about her bust size and she eventually gave up the position. Female temporary workers are the ones who assist school administration, cook meals for students and faculty, and prepare materials for science lab.  

Irregular workers in school are called daily workers from the beginning even though their role is essential and they have worked for a long time. They are paid outrageously low wages while doing the same work, and could not ask for a better treatment. They are off in summer and winter vacation, but it is like to take a long unpaid leave. In 2004, the ‘salary class system’ was introduced, but most irregular workers of schools still do not get credit for their experience and suffer from a widening wage gap with a sense of deprivation.  

Low wages are paid to contract workers of schools where women account for more than 90%. This creates a structural problem because it leads to an idea that the work of female workers is menial and it eventually forces female workers to suffer from low wages and poor working conditions. In the society, those doing menial works are considered menial people. No matter how hard they work, workers suffering from low wages and job insecurity hesitate about raising their voice. To bring a change to the unfair treatment of irregular workers of schools, we at Live Women Labor Action, in unity, are committed to putting an end to the ingrained discrimination in school. 

National Irregular Workers of Schools Conference (Korean Women’s Trade Union, Irregular Workers of Schools Division in Korean Public & Social Services and Transportation Workers’ Union, and National Irregular Workers of Schools Trade Union) started to fight in unity, staging sit-in demonstrations and holding rallies on April 8. Irregular workers of schools have continuously urged for introduction of a salary class system since 2011. The Ministry of Education and the ruling party have disregarded their demands on the grounds of lack of budget and denial of use of employment.

There is a social consensus that the problem of discrimination against irregular workers of schools is serious. Irregular workers in schools amount to 150,000, making up 43% of total workers in the public sector. They are paid based on the number of work days regardless of years of service, so the wage gap between regular workers and irregular workers gets bigger when the years of service gets longer. For example, a nutritionist who has worked for 10 years as a temporary worker makes only 63% of the salary the counterpart on regular payroll makes.

Faced with the growing demand for the conversion of irregular workers to regular employees, the Park’s administration announced a plan to convert the temporary position in schools engaged in "constant" and "continuous" work into a position with indefinite contract, but paid no attention to the discriminatory salary system. Without a salary class system, indefinite contract workers may be paid low wages. If the government creates more jobs in schools or local care centers by using private contractors, new positions will be filled by female workers suffering from low pay and little job security.

We want a workplace where all workers are treated equally. We want a workplace where female workers are respected. As temporary workers of schools fight in solidarity, it is crucial to attain a salary class system to change the structure of discrimination where women take all low-paying jobs. We can no longer wait for a salary class system. The Ministry of Education has to take responsibility and introduce a salary class system. The public sector should take a lead in making a fair workplace.

Live Women Labor Action is devoted to the elimination of discrimination against temporary workers of schools by leading solidarity of women. We, in unity, strive to achieve a salary class system ahead of a national conference on June 22.

 

Our demands are below: 

1. The Ministry of Education must introduce a salary class system to end the discrimination against temporary workers of schools!

2. The Ministry of Education must have a talk with irregular workers of schools for an introduction of a salary class system!

3. The Ministry of Education must improve the wage system which is unfair to female irregular workers of schools!

 

April 24, 2013

Live Women Labor Action

 

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[Press Conference on the Occasion of the 105th International Women’s Day]“Female President Park Geun-hye has to recognize the reality of female workers”

 

 

Tomorrow is the first International Women’s Day for the administration of Park Geun-hye who claims to be a president of women. 

In the time of former president Park Chung-hee who is the father of current president Park Geun-hye, women’s labor rights and human rights were heavily restricted. Moreover, the International Women’s day was not allowed to celebrate publicly. Current President Park may think that women’s living and working conditions have improved significantly as of 2013 when she is the head of state. As a president of women, she, however, has to recognize that the current working conditions for women in Korea are not much different from the working conditions for women in the US 105 years ago when the first International Women’s day was observed.  

Working conditions for women in Korea

Women’s labor force participation rate in Korea is only 49.7%, which is below the OECD’s average. On the other hand, Korea ranks first in gender wage gap, which is 38.9%. 61.8% of female workers are irregular workers, which is 1.5 times larger than that of male workers. Less than 40% of the female irregular workers are covered by unemployment insurance. Women make up 68% of independent contractors who are under the worst working conditions among irregular workers. Women also account for 61.5% of workers paid less than the legal minimum wage. 

Female workers of JEI have fought for labor union recognition for 1904 days as of March 8. Irregular workers of schools staged a strike, demanding unemployment insurance and a higher wage, but ended up receiving pink slips before the school starts, rather than getting converted to regular worker status.  

National agenda scaling back from election promises

The new administration announced national agenda ahead of its launch, but the female worker issue got the least attention while addressing problems of irregular workers, unemployment, and people’s livelihood.

President Park made campaign promises to raise the employment rate of women to 70% and to nurture 100,000 female talents. In her inaugural address, she pledged to make Korea a nation where bearing and raising children is truly considered a blessing. But her administration is such a disappointment from the beginning. Her initial promises were to make a society where women are treated equally as men and to allocate 30% of public officer positions to women. But only two women were appointed to work at presidential secretariat and cabinet respectively, which is fewer than the number of women the previous administration hired. This symbolizes the current situation.

Moreover, on February 27, the new administration unveiled its plan to promote a system to reduce working hours for female workers with children. It is worrisome beyond disappointing. Under the previous Lee Myung-bak’s administration, this approach did not help women balance work and family at all, and relegate female workers to part-time irregular workers. There has been no remedy for the previous administration’s mistakes.  

On the other hand, there is a sign that she may pull back on her pledges to build 30% more national and public day care centers and to promote a paternity leave system.

However, with a strong sense of solidarity and responsibility, we at Live Women Labor Action strive to hold her to her pledges. We urge Park to make progress in policies for female workers as the first female president.

Promises that should be kept

President Park has to keep her promises, converting irregular public workers into regular ones and providing 100% social insurance fee for irregular workers. We denounce the plan to reduce the support to 50% due to a limited budget, and demand that she should deliver on her promises.

Moreover, she pledged to expand the current system to provide irregular female workers with maternity and parental leave and to provide a one-month-long full-paid parental leave to men. The pledge is what female workers have continuously asked for to prevent women from having career discontinuance, so they should be fulfilled.

Recently, a retail giant, E-mart, and the National Assembly Secretariat announced to change the status of irregular workers to that of regular workers or indefinite contract workers. It shows the status of irregular workers can be converted to regular ones. The government needs to come up with concrete measures to add momentum to the change of the status.  

Furthermore, we at Live Women Labor Action, with the JEI branch of the after-school tutoring program industry union and the 88CC branch of Korean Women’s Trade Union, are committed to helping independent contractor gain recognition of their labor rights, which was not even on the list of Park’s campaign promises. To help women balance work and family, we also, with all the female workers, keep demanding on building 30% more national and public day care centers and improving an institutional framework to reduce extended working hours.

A better economy and society where bipolarization in the labor market is solved cannot be reached unless the issue of female workers who accounts for half of the population is solved. When the labor right of female workers is not seen as a problem of women and starts to be reinforced with macroeconomic and social policies, Korea will be a welfare state where 99% of people have good working conditions.

Last, to create a society where all women are recognized as workers, the Park’s administration has to focus on gender equality as one of key value while addressing problems of female irregular workers, career discontinuance, and gender wage gap.

 

- Our Demands-

One, Grant regular worker status to 200,000 female irregular workers in the public sector!
One, Fulfill the campaign promise to provide 100% social insurance fee for irregular workers!
One, Reduce gender wage gap to the OECD’s average!
One, Provide maternity and parental leave to female irregular workers and one-month-long full-paid paternity leave to male workers!
One, Recognize the labor right of independent contractors!
One, Change the practice of working long hours and build 30% more national and public day care centers!
One, Address the problems of JEI and 88CC unions where female workers fight for their rights! 

Participants of Live Women Labor Action Press Conference on the Occasion of the 105th International Women’s Day in 2013

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“Decrease gender wage gaps to the OECD average level:" The gaps will be tackled when the government prepares for women workers' comprehensive policies

Around the presidential election in the end of last year, Kim Sungju, Saenuri Party's joint-chief campaigner made a comment about 'ginseng cookies,' which became a hot potato. Kim Sungju said "I don't know why the young take a passive stance like asking the government to create jobs for them, although I, even a small size company owner conquered 30 countries. If you write on the google, the statement like 'I made ginseng cookies in the kitchen while breastfeeding babies, I can get orders from the world. I don't know why the young are so passive, even though there is great virtual world available there."

We wonder what other comments he will make in the future. He often makes a lot of very strange and aggressive comments, but it is very difficult to imagine his future comments.

“After graduating from a high school, I have been working at this company for 16 years. The male colleagues who entered the company at the same time as me, got job promotions to a deputy section chief only after 4 years, but it took 13 years for me to become a deputy section chief. My company is negative in promoting women to deputy section chiefs. When women become deputy section chiefs, they are able to get another job promotion as department heads in the near future, so my company usually asks to resign their jobs. The company also planned to stop married and pregnant women workers from working. When women workers refused their resignations, the company made two suggestions: it would pay a kind of another 3~6month retirement grants, or it would install additional 5 typed-occupation targeting only women if they insist on continuing working (in this case, women are not eligible for job promotion, and their wages are reduced, and only low level job titles are allowed to them.)”(a counseling case of the Hotline for Equality belonging to the GWWA in 2012)  

I am in my late 30s and very young now, but many years ago, many TV soap operas and documentaries often dealt with similar cases to the above-mentioned one. Even at that time, I thought that wouldn't happen in the reality any more. Recently, similarly obvious discriminations aren't broadcast on mass media, but in 2013 these things still happen.

I wonder Kim Seongju thinks the above mentioned counselee should stop fruitless counseling and instead try to find a new way based on a creative thinking? Is that really all?

[38.9%, Korea's gender wage gap, OECD No. 1]

However, there are a lot of serious statistics around in our society, which encourages us to see women workers' issues not personal matters but social issues. The Korea's gender wage gap is 38.9%, which is top amongst OECD countries. Sometimes, Korea has the worst statistics amongst OECD countries. This makes me wonder if Korea joined the OECD to degrade all kinds of average statistics of OECD countries, from time to time.

The wage difference between males and female workers is almost 40% amongst the total number of wage earners. That is to say, if the average wage for male workers is 1 million Won, women workers receive around 600,000 Won on average. This is because the company pays men and women different wages including discrimination in relation to job promotion as shown in the above case, even though they enter at the same time.

Female workers often receive less wages than male workers just because we are women. Male cleaners receive more 100,000 Won even from the beginning, on the ground they may have opportunities to have tougher jobs, as shown in university cleaners' struggles. But, I think this obvious discrimination is better in some cases. That's because we can take action more easily to the discrimination.

A fundamental problem related to gender wage gaps is that most women workers are involved in low wage labor and work as irregular workers with employment insecurity. Women compose 61.5% out of all the wage workers who receive lower wages than legal minimum wages. Irregular workers account for 61.8% amongst women workers in total, which is 1.5 times higher compared to males.

After mass media broadcast that Korea has the worst gender wage gap amongst OECD countries, a netizen put a post on his twitter, saying "Korea made great fusses about it, as if the world ends because Korea has the worst gender wage gap.... Women work idly and receive less in many cases, which makes women receive less on average. These days, there are no wage differences because of gender. The problem is social environment not gender wage difference."  

I feel sorry for his narrow-mindedness, and I am worrying about his too much innocence that there is no gender wage difference. However, I am somewhat relieved about his conclusion that the problem is owing to 'social environment.'

 

[Childcare policies and irregular workers ' issues should be addressed comprehensively]

As shown in the above, most women are viewed in our society, as working idly and voluntarily stop working when they are pregnant and deliver babies because of their very motherhood. However, because most women workers are low-income earners, they have to judge between their wages and child-caring costs. Therefore, women workers' issues are closely related to childcare issues.

In this sense, women workers are excluded from the labor market in their 30s when they have to work most actively. After some years later, they return to the labor market as low wage and irregular workers. In the end, women's employment rates by life cycle are like M typed.

That's why we, women demands the government to 'decrease the gender wage differences to the OECD average level, 16%,' in celebration of the international women's day.

Gender wage differences cannot be addressed by simply several policies. The government should address women's career breaks to improve the quantity and quality of employment, and also change bad jobs with poor working conditions to decent jobs to upgrade the quality of employment. In addition, the government should take active action in many aspects: increase the minimum wage to 50% of average wage level of all workers; convert women irregular workers to regular workers in the public sector first; and create decent jobs for women through reforming and stipulating acts, regulations and policies including affirmative action. In order to tackle women's career breaks, the government should prepare for comprehensive policies in terms of childcare and balancing women's jobs and family lives. In particular, feasible and effective policies in the workplace is absolutely needed.

[“President Park Keun-hye, keep your women workers related promises”]

President Park Keun-hye promised to achieve 70% women's employment rate and cultivate 100,000 future women's talents. In her augural address, she declared to make Korea " a country of blessing to those who will deliver and rear babies."

However, the beginning of the first woman president's government was disappointing. President Park Keun-hye promised to make Korea a happy country in which women receive the same treatment and wages and to allocate 30% of public positions to women, but only 2 women are appointed in her cabinet, which is worse than the previous regime.

Besides, on February 27, the new government announced to decrease the working hours of the women workers who have to take care of children, as its first women's policy. It made us very worried. This policy didn't help women to balance their jobs and family lives at all, and instead, make women irregular part-timers. I am afraid what women workers' policies this government will produce in the future.

We celebrated the International Women's Day again. We demand President Park Keun-hye to keep her pledges regarding women workers, and further, we promise far stronger consolidation and action to make an equal society in which women workers are in peace and equality, evading from poverty and violence. 

On the International Women's Day, we really hope the Park Keun-hye government to produce great measures to settle women workers' issues, which can end the disappointment and worries at the beginning of her government.

 

 

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[KWWA's Press release in celebration of International Women's Day]

Part-time jobs for balancing women's jobs and family matters are just 'illusion': analyses results of counseling cases of Hotline for Equality in 2012

The government claims that the expansion of part-time jobs is caused by married women who want to balance their jobs and family matters. But, in reality, unmarried women at their ages of less than 30 are found to work on the part-time base. This shows the government's insistence is just fake illusion.  

[partime workers account for 62.9% of those aged less than 30, 64.7% are unmarried]

In celebration of International Women's Day, Korean Women Workers' Association (KWWA) analyzed the counseling cases of its Hotline for Equality in 2012 and found the following outcomes. 35.5% of the counselees who work on the part-time base are aged 20~24, 18.5% aged 25~29 and 8.9% aged less than 20, which shows those aged less than 30 are concentrated on part-time jobs. Furthermore, 64.7% of them are unmarried women workers.  

Counseling cases regarding part-time workers show their poorer situations than any other forms of jobs. Delayed payment of wages, a typical case occurring at the poorest workplaces accounts for up to 51.4%. Additionally, the counselees who have worked for less than 1 year compose 88.1% ~ 90%, and those having worked for over 3 years account for only 0.5% (3 cases). This means part-time jobs are very short-term based.  

According to the 2012 March statistics, women accounted for 73% of part-time workers totaling up 1.7 million persons. Whereas 50.6% of irregular workers chose their jobs of their free wills, only 45.6% of part-timers had their jobs of their free wills. Moreover, the average tenure of office of part-time workers is very short. They work for 1 year and 4 months on average, while regular workers had the average tenure of office for 6 years and 9 months, and irregular workers for 2 years and 5 months. What is worse is that their wages are 621,000 Won, which is the lowest by type of employment. Their welfare benefits are also the worst. Only 11.2% receive retirement grants, 14.9% bonuses, 6.6% overtime payments, and 6.3% paid leave. They also confront another problem in relation to social insurance coverage. Only 13.2% are covered by the national pension, 15.4% health insurance, 15.9% employment insurance, which shows they are not in the social security net.  

To address part-time workers' issues, we at the KWWA plan to launch research on part-time women workers in this year. The new government must stop the expansion of part-time jobs right away and take prompt measures through comprehensive surveys on part-time jobs.

[Women workers are re-employed as indirect workers after their career breaks]

Age distribution of the counselees of the Hotline for Equality by type of employment is as follows: those aged 30~34 amongst regular workers accounted for 36.2%, which is the top amongst regular workers, and those aged 20~24 amongst part-timers accounted for 35.5%, which is the highest amongst part-time workers. Those aged 40~49 accounted for 30.2% out of dispatched workers and those aged over 50 accounted for 71.2% amongst outsourced workers. 27.6% of contracted workers are at their age ranges of 30~34, and 45.5% of day workers at their age over 50.

Korean women's life cycle employment graph looks like M due to women's career breaks caused by their pregnancies and child births. From this graph we can assume that women usually enter the labor market as indirect workers whose working conditions are very poor, when there are re-employed after their career breaks.

Since the Act on the Protection of Fixed-term and Part-time Employees was enacted, there has been a decrease in the number of fixed workers and increases in the types of direct employment and part-time jobs, according to a research. In addition, the government needs to investigate the existence of a far higher number of directly employed workers because directly employed irregular jobs are converted to indirectly employed ones, which is designed to evade from the job improvement to regular ones in the public sector.

[Most of sexual harassment attackers at very small companies are 'owners']

Besides, the issue of sexual harassment at very small companies was found to be very serious. Whereas the sexual harassment by owners are 32.6% overall, the attackers of sexual harassment are owners at 66.7% of very small companies employing less than 4 people. As shown in the Seosan Pizza house case, preventative education against sexual harassment in the workplace is not compulsory at very small companies employing less than 10 people. At very small companies, owners should treat sexual harassment cases, penalize attackers, and protect victims, but most of them are attackers themselves, which is very problematic. Therefore, relevant acts should be reformed to protect victims.

By the way, the total number of counseling cases in 2012 by the Hotline for Equality (having 9 local offices in Seoul, Incheon, Pucheon, Ansan, Suwon, North Jeolla, Kwangju, Masan & Changwon, and Pusan) were 2,752 cases (including males, but re-counseling cases are excluded). Among them, 2,569 cases were done by women, and 183 cases by males.

By counseling content types in 2012, working condition related cases account for 41.1% (1,055 cases), maternity right counseling cases for 38.5% (990 cases), which are the two largest components. sexual harassment was the third largest counseling cases (354 cases), followed by gender discriminatory remarks and behaviors. Compared to 2011, the counseling cases concerning sexual harassment at the workplace increased a lot, and it increased two times higher than those in 2002.

 

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[Comments] Pledges made by Park Keun-hye is like jam which sticks and blurs together as time passes?: Women workers' issues amongst her government's tasks

 

Park Keun-hye government's tasks suggested by the 18th Presidential Transition Team were announced, last February 21. The 140 national tasks will be served as compasses for government's national tasks for 5 years. However, amongst the national tasks, ones regarding women workers has been deteriorating or not become detailed, compared to the pledges made by Park Keun-hye as a presidential candidate. Actually, her pledges were not enough to open a new world in which women workers become happy. She should have listened to and reflected workers' opinions and views, but her national tasks have been getting worse. Even her inauguration ceremony, she changed the contents of her pledges, which makes Korean people worry about the next 5 years.

 

The biggest women workers' issue is that 60% of women work as irregular workers. Since irregular workers' issues are very important in terms of social unity, realization of a welfare nation, and economic democracy as well as social bi-polarization, the solutions of the issues should be far more concrete, comprehensive and feasible. In particular, irregular women workers' policies are not automatically solved even though the number of irregular workers are decreased. Additional labor policies are needed in relation to gender equality including equality of opportunities, equality of process, equality of result, and insurance of maternity protection. Park Keun-hye promised irregular workers whose work is regular and continual would be converted to regular workers until 2015, from the public sector. However, in her national task the detailed duration was missing. Currently, Park mentioned 46,000 irregular workers in the public sector would be regularized, but the number of women irregular workers in the public sectors is 200,000 persons. According to the announcement by Park Won-soon, the Mayor of Seoul, the Seoul Metropolitan government reduced 5.3 billion Won after it changed irregular workers to regular ones. This shows the converting of irregular workers to regular ones is not the issue of budget but the issue of the will of policy realization.

 

Specially hired workers' issues cannot be basically solved from the perspectives of employment insurance and/or industrial insurance. The essence of 88CC caddies and Jaeneung Agency private tutors' issues, who have been fighting for 5 years, is concerning the realization of their rights to work. The new government should take a lead in solving the issues of 88CC candies and Jaeneung Agency private tutors, as representative long-term struggles, but Park Keun-hye haven't said any word about the issues.

 

In addition, household workers are in the same situation. The Labor Actor which does not recognize the labor right of household workers was stipulated 59 years ago, which is inappropriate to the changed modern labor atmosphere. Although the ILO Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers should be ratified and the Labor Act should be reformed promptly, the labor tasks only includes 'Regulation of guideline for protecting working conditions of domestic workers, and supports for regulatory improvement.'

 

The fundamental solution of the issues of specially hired workers and household workers is that relevant laws should be reformed for recognizing their rights to work. However, Park made a pledge to 100% support social insurance fees for irregular workers, but it was reduced to 1/2 stealthily. So, her pledges are likely empty, and we are getting frustrated.

 

Park Keun-hye isn't highly willing to address the issues regarding balancing women's jobs and family matters. In order to implement the policies related to balancing women's jobs and family matters, essential is free uses of maternity leave and parental leave, safe and reliable childcare centers and males' participation in child care. However, the national tasks only include the introduction of 'daddy's month' whose periods and income replacement rates are undetailed, the increase in national and public childcare centers whose size are not detailed, and the conversion of pregnant women workers to part-timers. Part-time jobs in Korea has the lowest status amongst all types of jobs in Korea because it has the lowest social insurance application rate. Decent part time jobs doesn't make sense. Although women account for 73% of part-time workers and their working condition should be improved through conducting field research on them, Park Keun-hye sticks to the expansion policy without taking any countermeasures. As Park Keun-hye mentioned in her pledges, she should make social atmospheres in which women workers easily and freely use maternity leave and parental leave, and males should take 100% paid infant-care paternity leave system for a month, and national and/ or public childcare centers should be increased by 30%. Park Keun-hye should abolish the parttime job expansion policy right away and take measures for the protection of the present part-time workers.

 

The national task for cultivating 100,000 future women talents is hollow. Her pledge didn't show exact numbers, but it shows her will to expand women's participation through suggesting methods by area. However, the national task shows only one phrase, 'the expansion of women's participation.' Is that really all in the Korean society? It is needed to newly implement 30% affirmative action for cultivating women managers in the public sector, to reflect the system to evaluation indexes, and to introduce the employment quota system based on precise statistics of women committees, women professors and women principals. The affirmative action should be led in the public sector.

 

Furthermore, affirmative employment improvement action is also deteriorating, compared to her pledge. Women's glass ceiling shows inequality and backwardness in our society. It is impossible to enhance women's social participation and women's status without any her proactive wills. In this light, it is more adequate that the enhancement of women's participation and status should be led in the public sector.

Park Keun-hye promised to work "like a hard-working mom to encourage all of her children not to starve." We are questioning if women workers are included in her children? and who her children are.

 

February 22, 2013

Women's Labor Politic Action, Korean Women Workers' Association & Korean Women Trade Union

 

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Women's press conference to demand to stop repression on labor unions, and to settle down irregular workers' issues and layout issues

 

Many workers have killed themselves in succession, including Martyr Choi Kangseoh of the Hanjin Heavy Industry, belonging to the Metal Union, deceased Martyr Lee Un-nam, former head of the Organization Dept. of In-company Outsourcing company branch of the Hyundai Heavy Industry, Martyr Lee Ho-il, branch president of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, belonging to Korean University Workers' Union, and deceased Martyr Lee Ki-yoen, chief branch president of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, belonging to Korean University Workers' Union. Furthermore, workers of Hyundai Motors, Ssangyong Motors, and You-seong are on strike at dangerous steel towers in this cold winter to tackle their problems. In addition, many women workers have continued their struggles, including Jae-nung agency private tutors and 88CC gold caddies having been on strike for 5 years, both, and Golden Bridge Securities workers who have been struggling for their issues for more than 200 days.

 

As her pledge, President-elect Park Keun-hyu promised that she will make Korea the society in which women are happy, stressing that she is 'a all-prepared woman president.' She also imparted to Korean people, her hopeful message that she would lead her government on the ground of principles of unity and people's livelihood. However, in spite of consecutive death of workers, she didn't mention any women workers' issues on strike at all. Women workers account for more than 70% of irregular workers, and most of them receive less than the minimum wage or their rights to work are not recognized. Park Keun-hye as a president-elect must reveal her alternatives for making women really happy.

 

In order to address the current problems, we, Korean women carried out a press conference at the Kwang-hwa-moon Square and demanded Park Keun-hye to express her regret at these deaths and make her countermeasures to workers' issues, as well as her policies for women workers.

 

[Women's Press Release]

President-elect Park Keun-hye, don't ignore workers' cries for their basic rights to survive!

At the beginning of the year of 2013, the Korean society is in grief, because workers in succession killed themselves. Their deaths are so depressing since the workers tried hard to survive in the tough world. The diseased workers tried hard to struggle a lot at the streets, steel towers and underpasses.

However, they were suppressed by the haves who filed suits to demand the workers to pay an unbelievably large amount of 15.8 billion Won. Irregular workers of the Hyundai Motors, those of Ssangyong Motors and Yusung workers all climbed up and went on strike at steel towers and underpasses to survive. Jaeneung agency private tutors and 88CC golf caddies have been on strike for 5 years. So many workers of other 30 companies are also striking.

Park Keun-hye stressed people's livelihood and unity, insisting that she is an 'all-prepared woman president.' Additionally, she promised to settle down the issue of the Ssangyong Motors through national investigation when she was a presidential candidate. However, she hasn't mentioned the dying and deceased workers at all. She talked over tea with the heads of Jaebols and just asked them to refrain from laying out workers. Kim Seong-tae, a national assembly member and secretary of the Hanara Party stated that workers should have hopes, not making rash decision on her.

Park Keun-hye took negative view on the court's decision on illegal outsourcing, when she was a presidential candidate. She didn't see illegal outsourced companies as being closed, despite the closure of illegal despatched and/ or outsourced companies stipulated according to Clause No. 19 of the Act on the Protection of Dispatched Workers. She hasn't made any comment on the summon of Jung Monggoo, owner of the Hyundai Motors and the mother company which is responsible for the illegal outsourcing. What is worse, she is clearly against a hearing and a national investigation on the illegal outsourcing. Furthermore, as a presidential candidate, she made her pledge to persist with the poor act even though it allows for illegal outsourcing. Her action is seen as too hopeless.

Park Keun-hye declared openly that she would made Korea a society in which women are happy.

 

However, women workers are mostly irregular workers, and many of them are part-timers. Park Keun-hye didn't reply to the problems of the women workers who receive less than the minimum wage, and whose rights to work are not recognized. Rather, she made the worst answer that she would increase part-time jobs. Most of specially hired workers are women, but Park Keun-hye doesn't recognize their three basic labor rights. Instead, she clearly ignored the striking specially hired workers in front of the headquarters of the Saenuri Party when she was a presidential candidate.

No, we, Korean women demands the woman president to reply to the current situations. Park Keun-hye should not ignore the labor issues such as regular layouts, oppressions on labor union activities, illegal outsourcing and irregular workers' issues and the dying workers who like to live.

 

* Park Keun-hye must express her regret at the consecutive deaths of workers, and take countermeasures.

* Park Keun-hye must settle down layouts and illegal outsourcing related issues.

* Park Keun-hye must make a immediate national investigations on illegal outsourcing in the Ssangyong Motors and the Hyundai Motors.

* Park Keun-hye must take proactive action in withdrawing compensation and provisional seizures against workers and tackling the labor union suppressions.

* Park Keun-hye must protect the three basic rights of specially hired workers and irregular workers' issues.

 

January 3, 2013

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