Retreating policies on gender equality: focusing on policies from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family

 

 According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Report, South Korea ranked 116th in wage gap between women and men. Korea ranked behind Nepal and Cambodia. Economic growth that the country achieved was glossy, yet it was a result of exploitation of women workers, and discrimination against women still exists. A few days ago, my author, who is in a university now, said this to me. " It is more difficult for a woman to get a job, even if we study hard as men do. Gender equality..? What the crap."

 

 We all know that it is unlikely that male bread winners can support the family as it they did in the 70s and the 80s. Future is so uncertain and unstable in this ear that everyone, men and women, are all irregular workers. The instability in our lives is a result of wrong policies that Park Geun-hye administration is promoting, policies that expand inequality, instead of reducing it. The retrogressive reform of the labor market is a good example. If the labor market is reformed as the government intends, people will be working as irregular workers in their entire lives like salves; they will work as irregular workers in their 20s, part-time workers in their 30s, and dispatched workers in their 50s.

 

 If you look at the counseling cases in our Call for Equality, the only available job for a woman who went to graduate school but discontinued her career is a job with the minimum wage, which pays her 1,200,000 won a month. The government said that they will create decent part-time jobs, yet they are converting regular jobs into part-time jobs with poor working conditions. It is uncommon to see the cases that the employer sign the contract for only 11 months in order to avoid the retirement pay. The government promised solutions for the women's career discontinuity, yet in the past five years, we have 26,000 women who were fired because they could not get the maternal leave. Moreover, sexual harassment, insulting individual's character, and human right violence are going worse and worse! What are the government, who is supposed to protect the people and enforce the law, and especially the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, who is supposed to protect women's human rights, doing now?

 

 It is the government and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family that who must be fired because of their unsatisfactory performance in fulfilling their constitutional duties to protect the rights of the people. We, women, will not hesitate in demanding our rights but we will stand up for our constitutional rights. The more they try to oppress us, the more persistently we will arise. We urge the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family to respect and obey the constitutional law.

 


November 25th, 2015

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Three non-profit organizations for domestic workers press conference,

 

Stop lying about the legislation for domestic work! Stop now!

We condemn the Ministry of Employment and Labor for its idleness!



 On Friday November 6th, the National House Managers’ Cooperation, YWCA Korea, and the National Domestic Workers Association hosted a press conference at the main gate of the National Assembly.

 

 In February, the Ministry of Employment and Labor announced that they will legislate a law ‘act on usage of domestic service and employment of in-home workers’ in March. It is almost at the end of the year, yet the promise from the ministry is missing. Now, the three organizations hosted the press conference to condemn the ministry for its idleness.

 

 In the conference Yoon Hyeon-Mi, a president of the National House Managers’ Cooperation, argued that domestic workers should stop just waiting the legislation but the workers voice their requests so that we can achieve the new law that protects domestic workers’ human rights and labor rights.

 

 Kim Jae-Soon, who also gave a speech at the conference, spoke up about the reality of domestic workers that the workers lack break , vacation, any protection from the injury at work. She also condemned that the work is unstable as workers are often fired without any notice and they have nowhere even when their clients treated them as a thief or offend their feeling with verbal abuse.

 

 Reading a joint statement for the press conference, the representatives of the three organization requested that; the article 11 clause 1 in the Labor Standard Act, which excludes domestic workers from the scope of application of the law, must be deleted; the law protecting domestic workers must be legislated promptly; stable work environment where domestic workers can work safely must be created; public assistance for single-parent, low-income families must be expanded;the government must establish policies that cultivate non-profit domestic service provider organizations. The three organizations conduct a performance condemning the empty word of ministry by breaking rice chips which is empty inside.



Joint statement

 A missing legislation: we strongly condemning the empty word of the government that ignores people

 

 It has been five years since the alliance of domestic workers’ organizations and civic groups in the labor movement has proposed amendment of the Labor Standard Act and legislation of a law protecting domestic workers in 2010. Meanwhile, outside the country the ILO convention concerning domestic workers in 2011;inside the country, national assembly of Korea urged the ratification of the convention in 2011, the Korea Tripartite Commission made its official request for protection for domestic workers in 2012.

 

 After all these long discussions, the Ministry of Employment and Labor announced that they will promote ‘formalization of informal labor market’ as a means of ‘improving labor market structure in order to create more jobs’ in January 13, 2015. In February 24th, the ministry also made an announced that they will legislate a law to formalize domestic workers in the informal labor market and enforce it next year.

 

 It seemed that the legal protection of domestic workers are on the progress; indeed, domestic workers and citizens who heard the news about the legislation paid attention to the issue, expecting that the government pays attention to the reality of people and brings a real change that people actually can see. So did we domestic workers organizations. Although the result of our continuous request for amendment of the Labor Standard Act, which can bring a profound change, is not our satisfactory, we agreed that the announcement from the ministry about the legislation would be a big step towards the stability in employment of domestic workers. So we hosted forums and educated people in order to gather voice from the workers and to reach out people.

 

 However, at the almost end of year, in October, we do not see the promise, which is supposed to be fulfilled as one of the major tasks of the government. There is long way to go to legislate, such as, hosting public hearing, making a legislation notice, and searching funding for the legislation, yet the government keeps silence on this matter. Where did the promise with the people go? Was the promise that gave hope to domestic workers and the people about the change just a empty word? Did they just threw it out there? The Ministry of Employment and Labor, as a ministry in charge, must show us a road map for the legislation; when and with what contents will they propose the legislation? When will the law will be enforced? How will they find the financial source for the enactment of the law?

 

 All these questions must be answered specifically and clearly. We also request an official meeting with the minister of the Ministry of Employment and Labor. The minister avoided answering the national assembly members' questions, showing very irresponsible attitude in the parliamentary inspection of the administration. As a chair of the ministry that governs administrations on employment and labor, he must express a formal position of the government in the meeting with us. On behalf of 300,000 domestic workers, we request to the government as follow.

 

 First, the article 11 clause 1 in the Labor Standard Act, which excludes domestic workers from the scope of application of the law, must be deleted!

 Second, the law protecting domestic workers must be legislated immediately!

 Third, stable work environment where domestic workers can work safely must be created!

 Fourth, public assistance for single-parent, dual-earner, and low-income families must be expanded!

 Fifth, the government must establish policies that cultivate non-profit domestic service provider organizations!



November 6th, 2015


Members of the National House Managers’ Cooperation, YWCA Korea, and the National Domestic Workers Association

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National House Managers Cooperation and Korean Women Workers Association


 We have been struggling to stand against the gendered perception of domestic work, that the works is women's worker, and to locate the work in the right place. We debunked that it is against the social justice and discriminatory that the domestic work is not protected by the labor law and thus the law does not protect workers' human rights. Above all, we have been struggling to change the social perception of domestic workers by calling them 'house managers' instead of ' domestics' or 'helpers', in order to gain social recognition of the work. We contributed to the adoption of The Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers in ILO in 201, playing a significant role in protecting domestic workers' human rights and labor rights.

 

 However, in reality, domestic service is provided without a proper contract. As a result, the industry is ruled by a grab-bag approach which often cause conflicts between the workers and clients. Domestic workers work 4 hours for a client, and the 4-hours work has no clear job description. This leads workers to work without a break or to work too much, causing chronic illness related to the work. On the other hand, clients experience difficulties in choosing services they need, as they have different preferences and expectations.

 


 To address this issue, the National House Managers' Cooperation,  Korean Women Workers Association, the workers , and researchers conducted a research project to develop a job manual for domestic work in 2014.  Based on the project, we developed; ▲ a job manual, which defines a boundary of domestic service and time that is need for the each services; ▲  rules that governs rights and obligations of both service providers and recipients; ▲ the Terms and Conditions for domestic service and the Standard Contract for Domestic Service. 


 As from today's press conference, we will carry on a public campaign to promote the wide usage of the contract, in order to protect the workers' human rights and rights of the clients. In addition, our workers will sign the contract with their actual clients. By writing the contract, we want;  ▲ to improve the social perception of domestic work; ▲to change the wildly used but denigrating terms referring domestic workers to house manager;▲ to re-evaluate the value of domestic work, which has long been devalued; ▲to recover self esteem of domestic workers by declaring them as workers; ▲to guarantee the rights and the obligations of workers and clients; ▲to re-locate domestic work in this society. 


 Wishing that domestic work is respected as an important job, we request the government to play more active role in settling down the practice of writing the contract. 



July 2nd, 2015 


National House Managers Cooperation, Korean Women Workers Association.

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'The wind of minimum wage raise, blow!'

- Decide the minimum wage that contribute to the solving the issues of social bi-polarization and wage gap between women and men!

June 25th, 2015



 Since the deputy finance minister's remarks that we need to raise the minimum wage to boost the domestic economy, debate around the minimum wage was heated as a social issue. However, the debate did not last long, apparently due to the opposition from the businesses, and the minimum wage meeting has started in the silence to decide the minimum wage for next year. In the sixth meeting of the committee meeting in June 23rd, the employers proposed to freeze of the minimum wage again, and even worse, they made insulting comments on the workers. The committee meeting is ongoing under the inappropriate atmosphere, far from its importance in deciding a national minimum wage.

 

 People who experience a direct impact from the minimum wage are low-income workers who earn the minimum wage and those who earn the less than the legal minimum wage. Today 2,270,000 of people are earning less than the minimum wage. Among them, women account for 1,480,000, irregular women workers account for1,400,000, and 62% of those who earn less than the minimum wage are irregular women workers. On top of that, more than two-millions of workers under indirect employment and part-time workers are affected from the minimum wage.

 

 Today, eight-millions of women workers exist in Korea. 56,11% of them, which correspond to 4,500,000 of women workers, are irregular workers and 61% of these irregular women workers belong to low-income group. Still, the country tops the wage gap between men and women among OECD countries. Abolishing discrimination in the labor market is a way to solving to problem of social bi-polarization. Are not we ready to give up the top spot in the OECD gender wage gap ranking ?

 

 The key to abolish the wage discrimination against women is to raise the minimum wage. Under the current minimum wage, the hourly wage is 5,580 won, and the monthly wage is 1,160,000 won. Aren’t we supposed to be able to make living when we work hard for a month? 2,090,000 won per month and 10,000won per hour are right and just pay for those who work hard.

 

 In today's harsh economy climate, the majority of people in our society are struggling to manage their lives. It is especially true for working women. The problem of social bi-polarization, which is the biggest issue of our society today, results in the issue of discrimination. It is especially necessary to prioritize this issue when times are rough. It is difficult times, but we need to develop alternatives and change the reality step by step. To the committee that will make a decision this month, we ask for the right decision on the minimum wage for next year, which will be the starting point of new era with 10,000 won minimum wage.

 


June 25th, 2015


Women workers who demand the raise of the minimum wage to 10,000 won.

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- We demand for regularization of workers from large corporations with financial base and public sector!



Today, we remember women workers in the U.S. who marched demanding for the suffrage and bread 107 years ago. To celebrate the international women's day, which inherits the spirit of these women workers' struggles and pledges for political freedom and equality for women, today in 2015 we declare women workers' requests.

 

 Today, 56.11% of 8 millions of women workers in Korea, which are about four-million-and fifty-hundreds of thousands of women workers, are irregular workers. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women advised South Korea to reduce the number of women irregular workers as it is excessively large now. Also, South Korea, among OECD countries, has topped with its biggest wage gap between men and women. Therefore, today's statement to remember and to inherit the struggle for freedom and equality for women is all about irregular women workers. Because, the very key in resolving the issue of discrimination against women workers is to address the issue of discrimination against irregular workers . Hence, discussion on irregular workers must be based on irregular workers' and women workers' perspectives.

 

 Yet when you look at the government's Comprehensive Alternatives for Irregular Work, you can hardly find any alternatives to address the issues of irregular workers, but you will find that it is all about making lay-off more flexible and restructuring regular workers' wages. How could it be alternatives, if it lacks discussions on women and irregular workers?

 

 This is not so different in the Flextime Employment policy, which is promoted by the government. This policy does not create more jobs, yet it converts 8-hours regular jobs into part-time jobs, degrading the working conditions, as well as the wages. This Flextime policy targets women, operating as a mechanism that lowers the quality of women workers' working conditions. In the public sector, the 8-hours work of in-home nurses was converted into part-time jobs. Cleaning workers in the Songdo residence of Yeonsei University were forced to choose either being fired or changing their employment into part-time, so they are still struggling. Looking at the statistics, 10.8% of total workers in Korea are part-time workers, and women account for 71.1% of the. When we say the hourly wage of regular workers is 100, irregular workers' wage is only 48; only 19.5% of irregular workers are covered by the employment insurance, and 13.1% of them receive retirement pay.

 

 Public sector, which is supposed to be a good model, is not so different. There are 470,000 of irregular workers in the public sector; 130,000 of them are receiving less than the minimum wages. They are supposed to be converted into regular workers after two years of employment as irregular workers in the public sector, 185,878 irregular workers, which correspond to 73.8% of the eligible irregular workers, were not converted in 2013.

 

 In addition, people think that small and medium size corporations hire irregular workers due to their weak financial base, yet the 10 largest corporations in the country hire 440,000 of irregular workers, which accounts for 36.3% of total irregular workers in the country. Is not the social responsibility of big corporations with strong financial base that they show good examples of addressing issues in irregular work ?

 

 It is estimated that more than two millions of workers are under indirect employment now. The only legal protection for these workers for now, however, is the dispatched work act. Recently we see more conflicts around the indirect employment. Without any legal alternatives, these workers are being forced to accept lay-off or degrading working conditions.

 

 Today, the majority of people in our society are struggling to manage their lives. It is especially true for working women. Solving the problem of social bi-polarization, which is the biggest issue of our society today, is especially necessary when times are rough. In this difficult times, we need to develop alternatives and change the reality step by step.


 Today, celebrating the international women's day, we want to emphasize  in this statement that  we contribute to solving the problem of the social bi-polarization by improving the quality of lives of women workers. Wishing that the government , politicians, and everyone can think about the lives of 8 millions of women workers in March, we declare women workers' 7 requests. 



7 request from women workers in 2015.

Develop a comprehensive solutions to improve the quality of employment of 4500,000 irregular women workers!

Second, convert all irregular workers in public sectors into regular workers and employ those indirectly-employed workers directly!

Third, the biggest 10 corporations should develop a good model of the labor market that addresses the issue of 440,000 irregular workers they are hiring!

Fourth, abolish the Flextime employment policy, which focuses on the quantity of the jobs only, and establish new policies for quality jobs for women!

Fifth, raise the minimum wage substantially to guarantee the security of lives of working poor women!

Sixth, legislate the law that clarifies legal responsibility for indirectly employed workers!

Seventh, legislate the law for workers under special employment that obliges to join the occupational health and safety insurance and employment insurance!

 

 

March 6th, 2015.


Korean Women's Trade UnionKorean Women Workers AssociationActivists in the 70s (Kwon Soon-Gab, Kim Ji-Sun, Maria Lee, Lee Chong-Gak, Jung Sun-Soon, Cho Ok-Hwa, Choi Soon-Young)


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- Wage would be the best solution for problem of discontinuance of career

 

 Government, today, pronounced [part-time job vitalization follow-up complementary measure]. However this measure is just measure threatening whole women’s job by making employment insecure. The measure that expands social security coverage to women workers who work for plural part-time job is the same as a policy that exposes women workers to danger of death from overwork by encouraging women who are able to do stable work at a work place to work multiple part-time jobs. Vitalization of part-time job is just the same as cutting down women’s total wage. If truly wanted to discuss part-time job policy, applying entirely labor related laws to worker with less than 15 working hour would be the first step.

 

 Choi KyeongHwan, the deputy Prime Minister, at the visit to Washington to attend to an annual general meeting of IMF and World Bank on 11th (local time), said “without an increase in wage, the economy won’t be revived” while meeting with press and reporters, and “as uncontrollable cost like communication cast and housing cost is of great importance, disposable income that household actually can put to use is the very least. In this situation, the economy can’t be revived”.

 

 It is not only related to issue of economy vitalization but deeply related to economic activity rates of women. The key point of work-life balance policy is not about working hour policy but income policy. As everyone knows, gender wage gap in Korea is 37.4% as of 2012, which has been ranking the first among OECD members for 13 years. Average wage of male is 2,500,000 won while the one of female is 1,500,000 won. This is the point that career discontinuance of women occurs. If women have to work with 1,500,000 won as monthly payment which is almost the same as minimum wage, they can’t help giving up their jobs. It is because that level of wage causes deficit in terms of living cost and results in sense of exhaustion, therefore women judge that holding that kind of job is no practical use. At this situation, pushing career-disrupted women to part-time job being paid low wage is driving them out to the other brink from a brink.

 

 Also, labor income share is decreasing day by day and income of top 1% has being growing geometrically. Attention to inequality increases and Piketty syndrome is boiling up all over the world. At the center of this problem, wage concern of women exists in Korea.

 

 Choi KyeongWhan, the deputy Prime Minister, said “it tends to be thought that an increase in ordinary wage brings about difficulties in enterprise environment, but current economic situation is not like that. An increase in wage revives economy”. We have to pay attention to women’s wage. Wage of women holds core key for economic vitalization, solution of career discontinuance, economic activity rates of women.

 

 The policy that government should enact is not expansion of part-time job, but alleviation of gender wage gap and an increase in disposable income. For that, a priority should be given to a policy that reduces substantially women non-standard workers and increase minimum wage sharply as USA and UK implemented. Also, labor income share should be raised. Retention money that enterprise has accumulated should be distributed to workers. Government completely knows the cause of the problem. We hope that government doesn’t continue to make mistake, any more, that repeats to adopt a stopgap measure (‘scratch a leg of an elephant”), ignoring what they already knows.



October 15, 2014


Korea Women Workers Association / Korea Women’s Trade Union

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 National Assembly and Government must ratify ILO convention to protect domestic workers as soon as possible!

- A member state of OECD, Korea, a state of 15th to ratify the ILO convention!


 International domestic workers day is established at June 16, 2011, celebrating adoption of ‘Convention on the protection of domestic workers’ which was adopted at 100th ILO general assembly to ensure labor right and social right to one hundred million domestic workers all over the world. 


 All over the nation, around 300 thousands domestic workers, called house manager, postnatal care manager, home day care worker, and etc., work professionally. Due to change of social environment and family structure, contribution of domestic workers into society has increased. Nevertheless social environment where they work, having worth and being healthy, is not prepared. Domestic workers have not been protected by legal frame such as minimum wage and 4 major social securities since 1953 when Labor Standard Act was enacted. 


 As such problems are concerned internationally, in 2011 ILO ratified ‘domestic workers protection convention’ after several year discussion. And 14 states such as Philippines, Uruguay as well as Germany and Italy have ratified the convention. Also at 4 states including Chile, international campaign is being carried out, aimed to ratify in this year.  


 However, Korean government has not been working on to take active action or have communication with domestic workers’ organization with earnest attention but conducted a couple of research work. Last 2012, a bill was proposed to National Assembly, afterward no single follow-up steps was taken. It represents attitude to neglect domestic workers who are in number, at minimum, 300 thousands and abandons government responsibility to ensure labor right and social right which is basic right of nation.   


 Therefore, commemorating 2nd International Domestic Workers Day, we, domestic workers, demand for the followings in order to increase decent care jobs and to secure labor rights. 


 First, Korean government that represented a stand for adoption of ILO domestic workers protection convention should concretely prepare to ratify the convention with responsibility. Government must start discussion on administrative procedure and amendment of relevant laws like the Labor Standard Act by establishing ‘social dialogue’ organization together with domestic workers, customers (employers), civic labor organization. 


 Second, cover immediately unemployment insurance and occupational health and safety insurance to domestic workers by priority! Ensure basic medical cost and living cost for domestic workers that are in difficulty in taking appropriate treatment even though they are easily exposed to various kind of danger at working place!


 Third, build a public employment-supporting mechanism for domestic work to manage the quality of employment as well as service! Increase support for public Non-profit job-supporting organization such as cooperative, social enterprise, free employment agency! 


 June 16, 2014 National House Manager Cooperative, Korean Domestic Workers’ Association, Young Women's Christian Association of Korea



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– 18 Social Civic Groups at joint press conference on Sewol Disaster


 We do present our apology. We will not forget this tragedy.  

 Now we are ready to respond to every request from family members of the victims.

 We, 18 Korean Social Civic Groups, mourn all the victims dead or unaccounted for due to the ferry disaster, and wish every person unaccounted for be rescued as soon as possible. 


 We have felt deeply sorry for the victims and their families since we, members of the Korean Society, failed to establish a proper system for preventing disastrous accidents. At the same time, we also have longed for the Korean government to engage in  full-scale all-out rescue operations in the first place, refraining from denouncing the government’s incompetence and negligence.


 However, President Park Geun-hye at the Cabinet Council meeting on 29th of April made a statement to apologize for the Sewol ferry disaster, which invited doubts and suspicion on her sincerity from the families of the victims. Right that afternoon “Countermeasure Committee for the Bereaved Family” held a press conference for urging the government as well as Korean citizens to meet their desperate request. 

We, 18 Korean Social Civic Groups, do hereby give our heartfelt responses to their request.


 First, we are not going to turn our faces away from the families who are asking for the shipping company having cyclical corrupt relations with the oversight administrational bodies, the bureaucratic incompetent Authorities Related, and the Government failing to supply any proper support or measures for the bereaved families wanting the missing back, to take full responsibilities for their criminal negligence and misconducts.


 We are not just shedding tears any more while the bereaved families even try to wipe our tears. Now we are going to stand beside them and to fully support them on their requests, encouraging the whole Korean citizens to join us until the families realize their all demands, not to let them feel lonely and unfair.


 Second, we strongly call for the government to stop making excuses, and to take more active proper measures for 11 victims still unaccounted for to come back to the families of the victims, who are now formally demanding the government should make full trustworthy explanation for the exact cause and sequence of the tragic accident.


 We are demanding the government to thoroughly probe into the malfunctions and problems of the vessel, controling and managing failure, ineffectiveness of search and rescue operations and so on, in order to reveal the reasons why a ferry capsizing accident was magnified into a huge disaster. There should be no tolerance in investigating this catastrophic accident which leaves all Koreans submerging under the sea together with the victims out of sadness and shock.


 Therefore, we are requiring the government to answer every question raised by the families in a sincere manner. We also press the government to hurry search and rescue operations for the rest still in the waters.  We are going to monitor and urge the government reactions and measures to meet the demands from the families.


 Third, we urge President Park Geun-hye to take proper manners and pay a sincere  apology for the tragic accident to the bereaved families. It was crystal clear that her statement made in front of the Cabinet members failed to deliver her true comprehension and sincere apology for the disaster which devastated the whole lives of the victims and their families. The president and her advisory teams for the Blue House should understand this: a simple earnest apology from the bottom of her heart will work much more than they have worked ever since.


 Finally, we ask the president and government to stop improvising, rather to revise the policy basis as well as make “Citizen Security”  her top policy priority. We are also going to make every effort to take the Sewol Tragedy as chance for changing top priorities among the current government policies and the current mainstream social values.


 At this moment, Korean citizens bitterly reflect on ignoring the importance of citizen security at the expense of only putting emphasis on quantitative growth for our society, while hoping for Korea to change into a right direction. Due to this tragedy, we come to realize that there’s nothing more precious than human rights and lives. It is regrettable that the president and government haven’t come to yet.

Thus, we urge the president and government to reflect on the Sewol Disaster and to come up with appropriate measures to deal with all the problems it left behind.   


 We hope the victims rest in peace, and to the requests from their families, we once again promise our supportive response. We do promise never to turn our backs on the pain and appeals from the Danwon High School students, victims accounted or unaccounted for, and their families.



1st of May, 


Korean Women’s Association United, Korean Women’s Environmental Network, Korean Women Workers Association, Korean Womenlink, Korea Women’s Hot Line, Green Korea United, Networks for Green Transport, Eco Horizon Institute, Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, Citizens’ Movement for Environmental Justice, Citizens’ Coalition for Democratic Media, Peace Network, Preparing Toward One Korea, Cultural Action, Citizens’ Action Network, Hung Sa Dan(Young Korean Academy; Y.K.A), People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, National Council of the Young Men's Christian Associations of Korea(more than 18 nation-wide branches)

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2014 the Declaration of Independence for Women labor

 

 Winter thawing spring came.

 All creations come alive, the world is bubbling over with an air of life.

 Nature welcomes seasons and changes following the laws of nature.

 The time of season can’t block the spring coming

 The time of people remains in winter,

 Someone endures time of sorrow

 Someone bears time of despair

 Someone rides out time of brutality.

 

 Citizens of Korea who endure time with full of pain, gruesome new were heard.

 

 Mother and two daughters committed suicide together due to hardship of life.

 Mother, who worked at a restaurant, got injured arm on her way home from work but couldn’t apply for occupational health and safety insurance.

 She couldn’t help quitting the job, but couldn’t receive unemployment benefits.

 She had worked without any rest, but she is so poor as she has no spare money apart from monthly rent, living expenses, and medical bills.

 The mother and two daughters who had not applied for recipient for national basic livelihood

 At the last moment when they took their own lives, said sorry.

 

 The story is not only about the deceased of mother and daughters.

 Even now, somewhere in this land

 Working hard but don’t get paid for the work done and being poor,

 Overnight kicked out of job

 Being sick no work

 People who have to worry about their daily bread are around.

 Neighbors, who think of quitting on life due to no job, are also around.

 

 We, who live in a society where social safety net is poor

 Whether working or not, or what kind of work

 Eke out a bare existence,

 Live,

 Dram of lives, or

 Give up on lives.

 

 “My fellow citizens!If lives of people are uneasy, however state get developed, that would be meaningless. Once bearing and rearing children are true blessing, no worry about old age, the era of national welfare become completed. Any single of people should not feel fear that one might not manage basic life.” Park Guenhye president spoke at inaugural address.

 

 Unlike President Park Guenhye talking about ‘the era of national welfare’

 2014 today Korea, there is plenty of complaints from people who shout ‘want to live’.

 

 Here are women who account for half of Korean population.

 To Korean women who have been suffering and uneasy,

 Another like a bolt from the blue is happening.

 Under name of ‘decent part-time job’.

 Source of forcing women into ‘part-time job’

 Is the President Park Guenhye, for the first time, female president.

 

 Promised open of the hopeful new era

 Promised a country where all of nation are 100% happy, the president Park Guenhye.

   

 To achieve the presidential promise, ‘70% employment rate’

 With low wage and no protection from labor standard Act.

 Driving women to bad job, ‘part-time job’.

 

 Don’t even try to mention decent jobs on time basis

 until improve the poor conditions of more than 1.8million part-time jobs

 under low wage without benefits of four basic social insurances as workers.

 There already exist lots of women workers taking low-pay part-time jobs

 whose expansion can’t help but to drive women workers into lower wage and insecure employment.

 Don’t try to deceive women have a choice to want a part-time job in her need.

 Women workers are forced to accept one or two part-times jobs for remaining in miserable living conditions.

 

 Don’t try to justify women’s career interruption for the sake of family.

 Don’t force women to set their top priorities on homemaking

 which not only encourages job segregation for gender but also degrades women’s social status down mainly to give a birth and shoulder all burden of home-care.

 In this social circumstance, women, even in order to balance between work and home, are supposed to accept jobs in informal sectors only to be assistant breadwinners while men are supposed to secure jobs in formal sectors.

 Balance between work and home should establish prerequisites of feasible social and working conditions for both women and men.

 

 Don’t try to persuade women into accepting part-time jobs to build career.

 Part-time workers do chores and secondary tasks, increasing recently for the result of make wrong use of related laws and regulations .

 In this social surrounding, bringing-up children cannot be a blessing and a new era of “Happy Koreans” cannot come close to us.

 

 In 196-70s of Korea, Park Jung-hee, Military Dictator was notorious for exploiting young women workers by presenting them a beautified name of “a Pillar of Industry”. Thanks to their bloody tears and sweats, Korea has created enviable economic success while women workers had to endure poor working  conditions, inhumane treatment as well as low wage, only to fail to secure basic human rights as workers.

 

 Entering 2014, Park Geun-hye, his daughter, is trying to take advantage of women workers again: taking it for granted that women should sacrifice themselves for the sake of our society to reach the political goal of “70% employment ratio” while no considering quality of job and labor rights for women.

 Park Geun-hye is calling for women workers to accept “labor in no return” so as to overcome the current economic crisis, learning from his father compelling “Yushin(the Revitalizing Reform)” in the early stage of economic development in Korea to minimize the possibilities of economic social political crisis.

 

 We want to live in such a society:

 where labor by women workers should be equally respected as meaningful contribution,

 where people who have the will to work can do labor

 where return for labor should guarantee the real living standards

 where regardless of gender people can get jobs they want for their efforts

 where people have no fear for losing jobs when applying for maternity and childcare leave as well as reporting pregnancy

 where workers are not informed of unfair dismissal on employer’s own discretion

 where workers should be recognized and respected

 where both men and women do heart-warming labor for caring their own family and others in help

 where people have no worries for survival while stop working

 We do hereby declare this Announcement of Independence for Women Labor in order for women workers to be subjects of labor as human beings.

 


6th of March, 2014

 

Initiatives for Women Labor Politics · Women Labor Activists from 1970s

Korean Women Workers Association Korean Women’s Trade Union / Seoul Women Workers' Association Inchon Women Workers' Association Kwangju Women Workers' Association Masan-Changwon Women Workers' Association Pusan Women's Association North Cholla Women Workers' Association Ansan Women Workers' Association Puchon Women Workers' Association Daegu Women Workers' Association Suwon Women Workers' Association Kyoungju Women Workers' Association / Korean Women’s Trade Union Seoul Branch Korean Women’s Trade Union Inchon Branch Korean Women’s Trade Union Kyounggi Branch Korean Women’s Trade Union North Cholla Branch Korean Women’s Trade Union Kwangju-South Cholla Branch Korean Women’s Trade Union South Kyoungsang Branch Korean Women’s Trade Union Daegu-North Kyoungsang Branch Korean Women’s Trade Union Daejon-Chungchong Branch Korean Women’s Trade Union Ulsan Branch / Women Labor Activists from 1970s (YH Trade Union Soonyoung Choi, Soongab Kwon / Wonpoong Wool Spinning Sunsoon Chung / Samwon Textile Jisun Kim, JOC Labor Pastoral Maria Rhee / Dongil Textile Chonggak Lee / ControlData Oksoon You, Myounghee Han)



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- Ignorant government on the reality of women workers

- A surge of counseling on maternity right owing to invalid policies

 

 Analysis of 624 cases for 3 months, maternity right comprises 45.4%

 

 Korean Women Workers Association (Jeong Muja, Standing chairperson) analyzed counseling cases of 10 branches of ‘Equaline’ which is counseling window for women worker in order to commemorate 3. 8 International Women’s Day.Analyzed cases is for 3 months up to 2014 February, from 2013 December after publicizing [Case book of Equaline 2013].

 

 The core point of this analysis is that counseling on maternity right comprises the majority. Among 624 cases totally, counseling on maternity right comprises 283 cases (45.4%) and there are 231 cases (37.0%) for working condition, 50 cases (8.0%) for sexual harassment, 12 cases (1.9%) for verbal abuse and attack, 4 cases (0.6%) for gender discrimination, 44 cases (7.1%) for others. Last year, counseling consisted of 1,154 cases (43.7%) for working condition, 1,129 for maternity right, 236 cases (8.9%) for sexual harassment, 87 cases (3.3%) for gender discrimination, 37 cases (1.4%) for verbal abuse and attack. It shows counseling on working condition were more than counseling on maternity rights in 2013.

 

 It seems that the reason why counseling on maternity rights has increased in this year is because of confusion arising from big gap between the reality and government’s policy announcement to reinforce maternity right like announcement of ‘support measure fit to working women’s life cyclefor continuing career’.

 

 According to counseling cases, there are many cases like being bullied after telling about pregnancy to a company and forcing to come back to work after having only 60days for maternity leave, though 90 day maternity leave is secured by law. Especially, in case of non-regular workers, there were even cases of simple inquiry asking if non-regular worker can take maternity leave and child-care leave. In case of counseling on child-care leave, there were continuous cases of getting to know being dismissed in child-care leave and of being refused return after child-care leave. Park GuenHye President promised to make a country where ‘pregnancy and delivery are blessing, but, in reality, it is shown that many women workers worry about being fired from company once they get pregnant.

 

 Especially, government has been insisting that as ‘women resign their job to take care of their children, it is needed to create ‘part-time jobs’ for women to manage both child-care and work, but the majority of clients say that they want to continue to work if they can take freely maternity leave and child-care leave. In reality, there were many cases to inquiry about whether they can receive unemployment benefits in case they have no choice but to quit their job due to pressure by employer. It is mostly because struggle against unfair dismissal during being pregnant is difficult and most of those women work at small scale company where substitute worker scheme is not implemented at all. 83% of clients work at workplace with 50 personnel or less and 10% of clients even work at workplace with 10 personnel or less. Some of clients even asked whether they should hire a substitute in order to take child-care leave.

 

 Government is required to take action by large scale to promote so that both employers and employees can understand well about labor right and maternity rights and violation against those rights is illegal.

 

 Many cases of violation of maternity leave at daycare center, steady increase in counseling on paternity right


 Clients confused due to the Ministry of Labor not showing active will to ensure maternity rights

 

 There are outstanding cases on maternity leave by teachers at a daycare center who are in charge of social child care. In case of teachers at a daycare center, with reason that if teachers change, children would feel confused or that it is difficult to utilize substitute teachers, counseling cases showed that maternity leave or child care leave is not provided to them. Even there was a director of daycare center who forces teachers unconditionally to quit the job saying “there are many head-ache if maternity leave or child care leave are given”. Considering that government states “will expand public childcare for working women”, policy and system are required, it seems, in order to secure working condition and maternity rights for women workers. However, many of clients come to Equline after listening “it can’t be helped” from the Ministry of Labor when they made complain on maternity right, which shows that the awareness of government on maternity rights fails to meet the level of women workers. Government should take action for precautionary measures, instruction and inspection so that policy could be better implemented, rather than response to cases that happened terribly.

 

<A director's persuasion for resignation in a nursery school>

 I am working at a public nursery school as a child-care teacher. With the delivery in next February, I said that I would like to use maternity leave and child-care leave and return to the work. The director replied that maternity leave can be taken but child-care leave can’t for various reasons related to operation.Being heard about use of substitute worker, the director forced me to quit the job saying that married women always take an early leave and don’t go for training, they are not any better than single women. What I can do to deal with the director? (December, Busan)

 

 Among counseling on maternity right, the number of male client continues to increase. During period for this analysis, counseling from male client comprises for 8.2% of total. Last year, it was around 5%. The majority of counseling by male client was related to paternity leave which converted to 3day paid leave. There was also counseling about expansion of period available for child-care leave up to 8 year old child.

 

 Measures needed to counteract cases of cut of wage through making ill use of provision for rest-time


 Looking at counseling on working condition, delayed payment of wage account for the most, 39.4% with 91 cases again this time. These are cases that employers don’t pay the delayed payment and severance pay although employees quit the job due to delayed payment.Also there were pretty many cases to ask whether there are ways to receive the difference in case that they have being paid less than minimum wage at a part-time job.


 The most outstanding case among counseling related to working condition is to pay less by abusing the provision for rest-time which stipulated in the Labor Standard Act. Making bad use of the provision of 30 minute rest-time in 4 hours, cases to be paid after deducting amount for rest-time despite of not having been able to use the rest-time in reality were reported in Incheon and Gwangju. To deal with this concern, labor inspection and measure by government are required.

 

<Is it lawful to deduct30 minute payment in 4 hours working time as rest-time?>

 I work for 4 hours from 5pm to 9 pm. I received wage only for 3 and half hours. I asked shop manager and he said that he had told me at the very beginning that only 3 and half hours would be considered for working hours since the law stipulates that 30 minute rest-time is deducted from 4 hours working time. However rest-time is not given separately and we have meal in our spare time. Then, is it lawful to deduct 30 minute payment in 4 hours working time as a rest-time? Or should I report this? <January, Gwangju>

 

 Amid that poor working condition of high school student intern become social issue, Equalinereceived a case of sexual harassment against high school student intern. This was a case that a high school student in 3rd grade, who has been working since last November and supposed to employ as a regular worker, quit the job due to constant sexual harassment by bosses at the workplace. This client wanted apology from perpetrator and punishment.


 Beside, after recentbroadcasting news on a ‘battered telemarketer’, working condition, which is nearly human right abusive, became a social problem, but counseling on verbal abuse and attack continues.

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