Last 16th of June was the 8th anniversary of ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention 2011(No.189; on Decent Work for Domestic Workers). The convention was overwhelmingly approved by ILO memberstates including the Republic of Korea. It is also the anniversary of International Domestic Workers’ Day, when the rights of domestic workers was turned into reality worldwide after the declaration in 101st Session of the International Labour Conference. 


    In commemoration of this respectful day, Korean Domestic Workers Association(Domestic workers’ rights activist organization under Korean Women Workers Association) hosted a press conference on the legislation of the Special Act on Domestic Workers and campaigned in Gwanghwamun Square urging: “Domestic workers’ labour rights should be protected”. 





    Domestic workers who joined the event displayed discriminative words they actually heard from employers on the cork board, which were often insulting and offensive. Some of those words were rather cruel: Suspiscions like ‘I can’t see my ring’, ‘Have you seen my purse?’, or Disrespects- ’You don’t need to come to work from tomorrow(on a text message)’, ’You don’t have a trustworthy impression’, ‘Old lady’, ‘Housekeeper’, etc- were displayed, showing that many domestic workers are suffering from prejudice and disrespect. By erasing those words altogether with citizens and other activists, the domestic workers were able to erase the wounds in their hearts.





     Korean Domestic Workers Association has been stating and campaigning that using the term ‘domestic worker’ instead of ‘housekeeper’ can attribute in social recognition for domestic workers. Still, many people underevaluate the significance of domestic labor, merely thinking it as a repetitive and simple chorse. It is a matter of course that proper recognition on domestic labor will bring respect for domestic workers, resulting in better domestic labor service, thus there ought to be the change in our common perception towards domestic workers.   





     The members of Korean Domestic Workers Association had been building up movements to raise awareness in the labor rights of domestic workers while fighting against the stigma on  domestic workers and labor. They had been urging that the “Labor Standard Act”‘s loophole  excluding domestic labor from the definition of labor is a serious discrimination against social justice. While protesting against the injustice, the members were able to announce themselves proudly as a activist and laborer. 



     During the press conference, one of the members shared their work experience and how proud they feel as a professional domestic worker.




[ Hello. I am Kim Soon-Duk from Incheon branch. I am one of the domestic worker who does cleaning, laundry, cooking, and etc. I am not a caretaker, so usually I work without supervisor. But I always work hard and sincerely since there are lot to take care of. 

  I was deeply disappointed when the clients blamed me for stealing their valuables Some of the clients often put their belongings too deep inside their lockers and forgot where it was originally. But often, I was the one to be blamed for the loss. I heard the suspicious doubts from the clients for multiple times, but all of them found their belongings at home. Those suspiscions were very hurful and disappointing. Once, there was a client who worked in China that blamed me for stealing his passport, since it could be used in many countries. I asked the client about the details, but he was merely suspecting me although his memories weren’t clear. He called me almost ten times a day and threatened me, telling me about the immigration office and his respectful friends. I suggested that it would be better if he notifies the case to the police, but he refused. He told me that it can’t be a case since there is no evidence and got offended by what I sad. This made me very heartbroken and upset. 

  It is very difficult to work hard after hearing these groundless suspiscion, but all I could do is to ask my clients to trust me. If the domestic workers become widely recognized as a normative profession, I believe that those groundless suspiscion and ignorance will no longer happen. I want to work with trust and dignity. Thus, I am looking foward for the national assembly to pass the legislation on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. ] 


After the hearing, domestic workers read the letters to citizens aloud, and proceeded the campaign insisting the legislation on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. 


There needs to be a social recognition admitting that domestic labor should treated as a lawful and equal labor. Therefore, there needs to be a legal recognition on domestic laborers by including domestic labor as an “employee” in Korean Labor law, especially in the “Labor Standard Act”. 




Accordingly, we strongly urge that the Korean government must establish the legislation on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. 





Posted by KWWA

On Thursday, March 15th, feminist groups and nonaffiliated individuals held a joint press conference in Press Center and declared the inauguration of Citizen Action with #MeToo Movement. Korean Women Workers Association and eleven regional branches joined the Action.

 

 

 

 

Recently, #MeToo in various sectors of the society is ceaselessly pouring out. Sexism and sexual violence in Korean society is not new, but what many victims and feminist groups have pointed out for a long time. Sexual violence is not a personal trivial incident, but a social structural problem that all the members of the society should work hard to remove.

 

Korean society should feel responsible for the #MeToo movement, and actively engage in the reform of social structure that has made sexist power relation and sexual violence possible. We should consider sexism and sexual violence as a serious problem of the time and gather the power of solidarity across the entire society. Citizen Action with #MeToo Movement aims at coming up with continuous and integrated approach so that many feminist, labor, and civic groups and individuals can cooperate and support #MeToo.

 

 

 

Based on this understanding of the current situation and the passion for the better, Citizen Action with #MeToo Movement finally inaugurated in March 15th to gather power to remove sexual violence in the society. More than three hundred and forty feminist, labor, and civic groups and more than a hundred and sixty individuals joined.

 

 

 

 

Now we will build up a foundation to support the social change by the #MeToo movement. We will urge legal and institutional reform and plan various cultural events to improve social awareness and to create gender equal society.

 

 

 

 

Below are the goals of Citizen Action with #MeToo Movement. 

○ We support the #MeToo movement with solidarity for the fundamental change of the sexist structure and culture.

○ We take firm action against any plot to doubt, blame, or make political use of victims, and work hard to protect the rights of victims.

○ We remove any institutional or cultural scheme to shut victims’ mouths, and urge clear investigation and proper punishment for perpetrators.

○ We urge the State and the society to fulfill their duty to uproot sexism and sexual violence and actualize gender equality and to devise detailed policies and institutions.

○ We self-inspect and discuss our everyday lives and activities for actual change, and urge self-inspection and change of the whole society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After delivering the purpose, goal, and plan of the citizen action, we showed a symbolical performance. We tore a large banner to pieces, which contained sexist phrases and sentences created under the sexist social atmosphere. It showed our strong will to never accept this words anymore and to remove prevalent sexual violence and create a gender equal society after this wave of #MeToo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it is!

 

#MeToo, at the end of this fight will arrive the world we have imagined! Korean Women Workers Association will always walk along with this wave. We ask for your attention and support!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by KWWA

Cooperative Council of Care Workers, representing housekeepers, personal assistants for the disabled, social workers, baby caregivers, and other sorts of care workers, held a general assembly in February 3rd at Daejeon NGO Support Center.

 

 

 

 

 

A number of representatives attended the fifth general assembly meeting. The secretary-general of the Busan regional branch helped starting the pre-meeting program.

 

 

 

The chairperson of the Cooperative Council of Care Workers, Yoon Hyeyeon gave a lecture on “How to Protect Care Work?”

 

 

 

 

She briefly explained the history of the Cooperative Council of Care Workers. She reaffirmed that care work is not voluntary free labor but a proper form of labor. The members of the council have fought hard for the acknowledgement of care work over the last five years, which contributed to the broader social consciousness of care work

 

 

 

Government’s attitude toward care work has changed a lot in terms of institutions and policies. However, Yoon pointed out that there is still a long way to go, especially to the Bureau of National Association of Housekeepers and Social Service Bureau.

 

 

 

 

 

After the lecture, regional branches introduced themselves. Fifteen branches under the council shared their last-year projects with photos and funny chants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a short break, the general assembly began with a congratulatory speech of the standing representative of the Korean Women Workers Association Lim Yoonok. She pointed out that the invisible care workers became visible as a result of the council and the members’ effort and protests. The State Council has passed Domestic Labor Act and the rationalization of care work pay has started. Lim encouraged the members to overcome the expected difficulties later on.

 

 

 

The secretary-general of the council Ssollang reported the activities and projects in 2017. The council did a lot!

 

 

 

 

And she proposed the council’s 2018 plan, as below.

1. Stabilization of the council for people-centered care work and community-based management

2. Education of the members to help them grow as the experts in care work

3. Planning for development of the council organization

 

 

 

With the concurrences of the representatives, the council’s 2018 plan was approved. Let’s go for another meaningful year 2018! We hope the value of care work can be comprehended in a broader society in 2018 with the members’ passion and resolution.

 

 

 

P.S. The secretary-general Ssollang, who has worked hard from the start of the council, will quit in February. She sent her regard to the members in the meeting and the members sent their gratitude to her dedication. Wish you all the best, Ssollang!

 

 

 

Posted by KWWA

[Press Conference] Ministry of Justice and Prosecution Service Should Thoroughly Investigate the Sexual Violence Incident within the Organization and Take Action! —Simultaneous press conference in the sixteen regions across the country urging the investigation of the sexual violence incident in the Prosecution Service

 

 

 

In January 29th, 2018, Prosecutor Seo Jihyun disclosed that she had suffered sexual violence eight years ago by a high-ranking executive in the Ministry of Justice, but had never been apologized but rather disadvantaged in promotion. We wholeheartedly support Prosecutor Seo who took her courage on behalf of all of us.

 

In February 1st, Korean Women Workers Association and regional branches, in company with Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, United Korea Women’s Association, United Korean YWCA, and Committee of Women’s Rights of the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, held simultaneous press conferences in front of the Supreme Prosecution Service and sixteen regional Prosecution Services to urge the investigation of the intra-organizational sexual violence incident. Korean Women Workers Association made a speech at the press conference held in front of the Supreme Prosecution Service.

 

 

 

 

[Speech] Gender Equal Justice for the Prosecutor Seo Jihyun!

Lim Yunok (Standing Representative of the Korean Women Workers Association)

 

Everyone must have seen the prosecutor’s interview. I was in tears watching her putting stress on every word. I could tell how difficult it was for her to take heart to speak out and how brave she was to burden the responsibility to speak out. She has heard a lot of resigned voices, such as “It is easy to fabricate you as a crazy bitch. Just be quiet and work hard.” “If you want to live as a prosecutor for a long time, you had better get good evaluation from your bosses.” But prosecutor Seo stood up. I truthfully appreciate her courage to make all the women to witness the power of a dignified survivor and to voice ourselves with our own courage.

 

Prosecutor Seo said in the interview: “Even though I was the victim of the sexual violence, I have blamed myself for the eight years. I thought I was suffering the shameful incident because I might have done something wrong. Thus, I am here today to tell the victims that it is not their fault. It took me eight years to realize that.”

 

Yes. The perpetrator Ahn Taegeun, the then Director of the Office of Policy Development of the Ministry of Justice, insisted that “I don’t remember. It was a long time ago.” The Ministry of Justice articulated that “There was no problem in the personnel system.” While the perpetrator has promoted to the Director of Criminal Affairs Bureau and enjoyed power, the victim had to spend eight years to realize that it was not her fault. We all know that the eight years must have been an ongoing torture for her.

 

How gruesome it is. As a taxpayer, as a citizen who expects the Prosecution Service to be righteous, and as a social activist who has claimed for years that sexual assault is violence, I am miserable. What is the Prosecution Service for? It is a state organization which is meant to actualize justice. It is the Prosecution Service that investigate and penalize sexual violence. The incident happened in a funeral. There was the Minister of Justice right nearby. And many other prosecutors were witnessing the scene. However, that sexual violence has been concealed for eight years. I am miserable.

 

That’s not all. Prosecutor Seo hesitated to disclose this incident concerning it might cause trouble to the organization. Moreover, she has received not an apology but disadvantages within the organization, including anomalous administrative inspection, warning from the Prosecutor General, deprivation of prosecuting discretion, and unusual personnel appointment. She had twice earned achievement awards as an excellent prosecutor, but after the incident she has suffered all these disadvantages by male high-ranking executives who wanted to conceal this violence.

 

What is the problem? What made the organization of the Prosecution Service decay as such? What or Who gave the right to them to overrule the Constitution, Labor Standards Act, Gender Equal Employment Opportunity Act?

 

I think it is the unbreakable power of the upper 1%. “I have received the achievement award twice, which is hard for anyone to receive even once in a life time. My service has been selected as an exemplary case once every few months and got rewarded. But these achievements have not really been reflected in the personnel assessment. I have seen a lot of cases, in which incapable male prosecutors get awarded or promoted to good positions in spite of female prosecutors’ better performance.” As prosecutor Seo said as such, if personnel system and reward system are not transparent, it could always be easy to manipulate the organization and disadvantage the powerless people. The personnel assessment system itself is sexist. Sexism at work cannot be removed until the personnel system becomes righteous and transparent, tearing down the mutually-protecting male power structure.

 

Prosecutor Seo said that now she knows there is no other way to voice herself to the people who ignore the powerless and patron-less prosecutor’s cry.

 

Now we declare. Prosecutor Seo, you are not alone. We hear you. We sympathize you in solidarity. We will fight for the end of sexual violence at work to help out women lacking patrons and power within state institutions like the Prosecution Service.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Press Conference]

In response to the sexual violence within the Prosecution Service,

We support prosecutor Seo’s courage!

We urge the investigation without any sanctuary!

 

  

In October 2010, one female prosecutor was sexually harassed by an executive of the Ministry of Justice in a funeral. After the incident, she had not received any apology from the perpetrator but rather received unconvincing disadvantages at work, such as anomalous administrative inspection, warning from the Prosecutor General, deprivation of prosecuting discretion, and unusual personnel appointment. The victim disclosed this incident to the press in January 29th, 2018. Her interview exposed the judicial institutions’ unjust attempt to conceal the incident and to suppress her by disadvantages in the personnel system.

 

After the sexual harassment, the victim naïvely thought she could keep working in the organization without any problem if she worked hard. However, the continuous disadvantages at work have her blaming herself for not officially filing a complaint and realizing that no reform can be initiated if the victim keeps silenced. She said, “I am here today to tell the victims that it is not their fault.” We need to think about how our society should comprehend the prosecutor Seo’s courage. We argue as below.

 

First, thoroughly investigate the incident.

Ministry of Justice made a remark in January 29th, 2018 that it was difficult to grasp the details of the sexual harassment incident of eight years ago, and that there was no problem on paper about the personnel assessment of the victim. We raise questions how the comprehension of the details of the sexual harassment incident of eight years ago can be done as quickly as such, whether they thoroughly and sincerely investigated the incident or not, and how much the victim’s testimony was reflected in the investigation. In response to the critical public opinion, the Ministry of Justice articulated on 30th that they would carefully examine the issue and take measures, and created an investigation team on 31st. However, we think the investigation team consisting only of prosecutors is not enough for righteous inspection. We urge the establishment of the Committee for Special Investigation including civilian experts. Furthermore, we urge the establishment of the High-Ranking Public Officials’ Corruption Investigation Agency, which would be the foundation for righteous investigation procedure.

 

Second, no more re-victimization.

We clearly remember the Supreme Court’s sentencing remarks in December 2017 on the sexual harassment incident in the Renault Samsung Motors. It says, “What victim experienced should be admitted as disadvantage, if there were the circumstances which reflect the company’s intention of oppressing the victim’s official complaint.” It is a declaratory warning towards the re-victimization, including counteraccusation, retaliation, disadvantage, and ostracizing/bullying. If “there was no problem on paper” as the Ministry of Justice insisted, we need to delve into what makes it possible that there was no problem. There work conventional biases against victim, such as “the victim must have induced the incident,” or “the victim slanders male rival to get promoted or to dig some money.” We need to think hard to eliminate these sorts logic of exclusion of women at work.

 

Third, we urge deep introspection and concrete efforts for gender equality within the Prosecution Service.

Korean Association of Sexual Violence Relief Centers’ 2017 evaluation on “facilitators and obstacles” of righteous inspections on sexual violence concludes that the Prosecution Service occupies 6 obstacles out of 10. It reveals the Prosecution Service’s general attitude and perspective toward sexual violence cases and victims. According to Korean Sexual Violence Relief Center’s 2003 research on the gender awareness and gender equality education of the people in the legal profession, 80% answered “Yes” to the entry “Sexual violence cases have more false accusation for the purpose of money.” In comparing these two researches, we can see that the misunderstanding of sexual violence and sexual victims has not been improved over the last fifteen years. Prosecution Service should be responsible for the detailed measures to improve gender awareness within the organization, such as gender equality education and exhaustive inspection on the sexual violence incident among the members. It is indispensable not only for no more such incident in the Prosecution Service but also for righteous inspection and prevention of sexual violence in the entire Korean society.

 

Over the last thirty years, Korean society has witnessed sexual victims’ speaking as well as the resulting changes in law, institutions, and social consciousness. However, many victims are still forced to choose to keep silenced, to conceal the incident, or to leave the communities. Only in a mutually-trusting society where victims do not have to leave the communities because of their official complaints can sincere change begin. The victim prosecutor Seo might have taken her courage based on her trust of the changing society represented by the so-called feminist president and the Prosecution Reformation Committee. Victims publicly break the silence not only because they realize there is no personal or institutional way to resolve their suffer, but also because they trust the members of the society to help them. Now we declare our wholehearted support for the prosecutor Seo who bravely stood up on behalf of all of us. We will stand on her side. We will monitor and urge the Prosecution Service to recover trust from the powerless people in the society and to actualize justice.

 

Now we demand:

 

Prosecution Service should thoroughly investigate the incident with a Committee for Special Investigation including civilian experts!

 

Ministry of Justice should establish the High-Ranking Public Officials’ Corruption Investigation Agency and thoroughly inspect the high-ranking public officials’ offences!

 

Prosecution Service should come up with the detailed measures to improve gender awareness within the organization, such as gender equality education and exhaustive inspection on the sexual violence incident among the members!

 

Prosecution Service should improve its member’s competency to investigate sexual violence incident by gender equality education!

 

Stop suspecting and blaming the victim and prevent re-victimization!

 

2018. 2. 1.

Posted by KWWA

 

[Recollection] “For Gender Equal Labor in 2018”: The 26th General Assembly of the Korean Women Workers Association

January 23rd, 2018

 

 

 

The 26th General Assembly of the Korean Women Workers Association was held in January 19th at Daejeon NGO Support Center.

 

Representatives from eleven regional branches and other affiliated organizations attended.

 

 

 

Six key values of the Korean Women Workers Association—Respect, Solicitude, Equality, Self-Determination, Open-mindedness, and Growth with Each Other—and twelve promises to systematically implement these values had been resolved in the last headquarter meeting.

 

 

 

Each branch has printed the reified promises and exhibited them in the assembly room. We hope these resolutions could help our Association growing into a more equal and harmonious organization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the General Assembly, Choi Eunsun, a long-time lawyer for victims of sexual violence and a joint representative of the Korean Women’s Association United, gave a lecture, titled “Gender Equal Constitutional Amendment Can Change Our Lives.”

 

 

 

 

In comparing the political situations around constitutional amendment in 1987 and 2018, she argued that the amendment in 2018 after the Candlelight Revolution should overcome the limits of the amendment in 1987. By introducing Recall, Initiative, and Plebiscite by the people and by expanding direct democracy, the constitution should be revised in the direction of extending the fundamental rights of the people, she argued.

 

Moreover, Choi emphasized that gender equality should be one of the national objectives in order to actualize democracy. Gender inequality and gender division of labor prevailing in every sector in the society have not been overthrown over the past thirty years, when Korea has witnessed magnificent developments institutionally as well as socially. Choi pointed out that the voice of gender equality can be heard in the society by the gender equal constitutional amendment.

 

 

 

 

 

After the lecture, Secretary General Neuti hosted the self-introduction of the regional branches. They introduced their own six values and twelve promises by acrostic poem.

 

 

 

 

Korean Women Workers Association composed a poem with the value Growth with Each Other.

 

 

 

 

 

Two new activists in Seoul branch introduced themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the branches enjoyed the time with interesting poems.

Then the 26th General Assembly started by the two representatives’ opening speeches.

 

 

 

 

Standing Representative Lim Yunok opened her speech with the three scenes of the last year. First, Stop at 3 O’clock March on the International Women’s Day in Gwanghwamoon Square, in which the issue of gender wage gap was first brought up to the national political discourse. Second, the resolution of the six key values of the Korean Women Workers Association. Third, the establishment of the Feminist Worker Academy as a forum for regional feminist discussion. Lim said that we did a lot, but we were not done.

 

 

 

Joint Representative Bae Jinkyung added that Korean Women Workers Association is not an organization only for social activities but also for relaxation and life of the members. To achieve gender equal labor in 2018 and to move forward, we need to work hard, but we also need to rely on each other and become relaxation to each other.

 

 

Chairperson of the Korean Women’s Trade Union Na Jihyun attended and gave a short speech.

 

 

General Assembly moved on to the reports of the last year’s projects and finance, and to the approval of this year’s projects. Below is the Korean Women Workers Association’s keynote of the year 2018.

 

Keynote for Year 2018 (the fourth-year plan)

1. As a new paradigm for woman labor policy, we propose “Gender Equal Labor Policy” and develop activities and movements for the realization of gender equality at work.

2. We try to realize future plans for sustainable movement for gender equality at work.

 

 

Key Projects

1. Removal of the Gender Wage Gap

1) A road map for the removal of the gender wage gap

2) International Women’s Day

3) Removal of the Gender Wage Gap Day (May 11th)

4) Campaign for observance and realization of minimum wage

 

 

2. “Change and Growth”: Realization of Future Plans for Gender Equality at Work

1) Evaluation of “Equality Hot Line” project and pursuit of reorientation of KWWA’s project

2) Settlement of feminist organizational culture (Attractive organization)

3) Expansion of the female worker generation

4) Recruitment and reproduction of activists

5) Organization of 10,000 members and establishment of regional branches in 16 provinces (long-term plan) 

 

 

We ask for your support and participation of the Korean Women Workers Association’s activities for removal of gender wage gap in 2018 and the Association’s sustainable growth towards better future.

 

After the meaningful (but less funJ) General Assembly, we held an award ceremony for regional branches and activists. The newest activists from each branch helped awarding the prizes.

 

 

 

Breaking up the Year 2018 Award: Seoul Women Workers’ Association

 

 Increasing Power of Feminism Award: Masan-Changwon Women Workers’ Association

 

Busking with Female Workers Award: Kwangju Women Workers’ Association 

 

I am the Heroin of the Equality Hot Line Award: Kyungjoo Women Workers’ Association 

 

Let’s Restart from Here from Now Award: Puchon Women Workers’ Association

 

“We Can Speak” with Female Workers Award: Daegu Women Workers’ Association  

 

Activity, Is It True? Award: Korean Caring Cooperative Council 

 

Domination of Female Labor in Busan Award: Busan Women’s Association

 

Great Job This Year Award: Suwon Women Workers’ Association

 

We Met the Lives of Female Workers in Small Workplace Award: North Cholla Women Workers’ Association 

 

Do Whatever You Want! We support You! Award:  Ansan Women Workers’ Association

 

 

The 26th General Assembly came to an end as such. Let’s go for the realization of gender equality at work! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by KWWA

A woman in 1970 and a woman in 2017 met together

Kim Kyung-suk Award where I met women in books

 

 

 

※ This article is written by KWWA Volunteer Jung, Seunghee.

 

  On 21 Dec. the strong wind stopped as if it cheers women workers’ fights. On the day I joined the 4th Kim Kyungsuk Award-women labor movement award for the year- and the Solidarity Night of Women Workers as a volunteer of Korean Women Workers Association. As I am a just a student and had a short experience of working, women labor movement is merely something in the book and newspapers. While I moved to the event site, I was a bit exited to listens from women labor movement activists directly and at the same time I was a bit nervous doubting I would be a help for the events.

  While I prepared for the event finding what I should do, many people came in the event site. Before the opening, there was a session where participants took photos in solidarity with women crews dismissed by Korea Train Express(KTX) with supportive messages and I was in charge of taking the photos. I was confident to see most participants readily taking solidarity photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  This year's winners are dismissed workers at KTX (KTX crew branch of Korean Railway Workers' Union), who have continued to fight against deceiving in recruitments and unfair dismissals for more than 4,300 days. I hadn’t known their stories in detail but I had a chance to learn their stories from a magazine closely. In 2004 they came through a tough competition to become the first crew of Korail. I can imagine how much they were happy as I am now in the same age of them at the time of their joining in KTX. And I became more sympathetic to their sufferings for the same reason

 

 

  In the talk show following the award event, we listened stories from Kim, Seungha, the KTX branch chief and Jeong, Mijung, secretariat of the branch, and Lee, Chonggak, the branch chief of Dongil Textile. I am a student majored in Business you can easily meet anywhere and have little knowledge on the labor movement in 1970s. But I had a chance to read 'Korean Workers: The Culture and Politics of Class Formation' written by Koo, Hagen in a class on labor this semester. The book is written for the students in the US. So it was easy for me as well even though I didn't have much background on labor movements. The book is mainly about women in 1970s who played crucial role in the movement. While reading, I was astonished to learn how the government and employers exploited them and repressed the movement cruelly.

 

  The most shocking two stories were about Kim, Kyungsuk who died during the sit-in of YH Trading company trade union at Shin Min party's headquarters and that Dongil textile workers’ strike where the company throw feces on them. It was inhuman and I was almost loosing sense of humanity. I had a fit of anger and resentment while listening from the person who was at the scene. When Lee, Chonggak couldn’t control her rage and said she has had trauma after the strike, I was shedding drops of tears out of anger.

 

- Screening of 'the flowery (documenting YH trade union fights)' at the beginning of the event

 

 

 

 

  What made me sad was that women workers in 2017 still have the same experience with those who were in 1970-80s. I was frustrated at how long the women workers’ suffering lasted until today but Lee Chong-gak's speaking consoled us and gave a hope. Lee was one of the woman who had bitter fights in the past and she told us that she realized the fights were for herself in the end. Out of respect and inspired by her speech I was able to overcome frustration and to have a will fight to the end.

  In the end of the event participants made circles and sang by changing lyrics together. I took photos of them hanging around them. I found strong energies coming from somewhere when I see them as a whole picture. I might be overwhelmed by their collective experiences.

 

 

- Picture of circling and singing by changing lyrics

 

 

 

 

 

  When the world is seen from a distance, we cannot find it changing. But when you look at it closely, we can see the world changing slowly. We must remember sweat and tears which made progresses in the history. I enjoyed the moment of sharing experiences and pains and finally reconfirming the will of solidarity. That made the day meaningful and beautiful for a student who will be a woman worker in the future.

 

- Jung, Seunghee, volunteer having time with Korean Women Workers' Association activists and women labor movement activist in 1970s

 

 

 

 

2017. 12. 28

 

 

Posted by KWWA

[Comments]

Measures to boost jobs for women in the perspective of gender equality at work must be effective  - in a response to the government announcement of measures to boost jobs for women

 

 

 

  The government announced measures to boost jobs for women today (2017.12.26.). The measures have shown that the government is concerned about jobs for women and gender discrimination. But it's still lacking philosophy of gender equality at work. The new government strategy is to build a fair society without discrimination by achieving gender equality and respecting labor. Despite, it fails to see women as labor who must be respected and regards them as labor force merely to be used, which has been mistakenly repeated in the past regimes. Now it must correct the view. Women workers should not be something to be used but citizens working independently and to be respected. This is the point to start with.

 

  The measures are lacking integrated thinking. They start with preventive measures for career breaking. The measures diagnose women's pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing as the cause of carrier breaking and focus them to solve the problem. The measures may be fairly said as preventive measures for carrier breaking women. But women are devalued in the whole process from job opening, recruitment, roles and duties at work, promotion to retirement. Women actually experience carrier breaking caused by low wages and poor working conditions. This is why the government measures should cover from the recruitment process to the measures for aged women. As raised as a social issue several times in the past, it is urgent to come up with measure for discrimination against gender in recruitment process and downgraded employment. To solve the problem, job division by gender must be considered. Many companies run business separating jobs by gender. This leads workers to face difficulties in redressing discrimination. Women take disadvantages because of downgraded employment, restrictions in promotion and wages caused by job division by gender and suffer damages in the form of employment. The government must take consideration of these problems in the measures.

 

  As of 2017, 52.4% of women workers are irregular workers and 21.6% are part time workers. It is urgently needed to provide a measure specifically focused on women irregular workers. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommend to lower the rate of irregular women workers which is seriously high. However, we cannot find any measures on the problem, which is serious problem itself. In addition, the quality of employment has dramatically deteriorated in the past regimes. The average wage of irregular women workers has been below the minimum wage since 2016. Against this backdrop, the government announced that it will expand flextime system, which seems to be very risky. The government policy reflects gender discriminated way of thinking, which put both responsibilities of work and family caring on women. The priority must be to check working conditions of short-hour workers and to improve their working conditions. Extremely short-hour workers those who work less than 15 hours in a week are not protected by Labour Standard Act including four social insurances, severance pay, leave and 2 year of duty of employment. Companies manipulate prescribed working hour contract standard by chopping down contract terms of regular workers. The government must consider how to cope with the problem.

 

  There are several measures we welcome but we still have doubts on its effectiveness. We welcome deployment of labor supervisor in charge of equal employment but it would not be effective with 1-2 supervisors by provincial offices. The government need to set up women employment division in the provincial offices which was removed under Lee Myungbak administration and secure sufficient number of labor supervisors to monitor equal employment. This only can lead to build infrastructures to implement labor policies in the perspective of gender equality. To secure effectiveness, detailed standard must be provided to incentives for companies including customized consulting support for vulnerable small and medium sized companies and National Pension Services investment on companies with good performance in women employment. The policy on domestic work service can be effective only when substantial measures including support for the four social insurances back up the policy.

 

  Furthermore, improvements in the process of applying maternity leave and monitoring the process are required in the environment where pregnancy means dismissal. But there's no measures on it. Support for paternity leave would be useless because we are at the moment that quota system for father's childcare is required. Expanding remote working system needs systemic complement. This is because the system would make blind areas of Labour standard act by employing workers as special employment status. The government measures are also lacking strengthening penalties on sexual harassment at work contrary to the government previous announcement.

 

  There's no measure to break up glass ceiling which is the strongest among OECD countries. We cannot find any strong measures such as female executive quota system, which was successfully implemented in countries including Norway. Despite the fact that Affirmative Action lacks form of employment, compensation for companies and penalties, the policy only tries to expand the coverage of companies without correcting systemic problem.

 

  We welcome creating official domestic work service market, disclosing gender equal wage information, newly establishing gender discrimination redressing process in the Labour Relations Commission, introducing punitive damages, ensuring contract workers maternity payment, expanding paternity leave, nurturing work-family balanced culture and enhancing gender equal education. But It is serious problem that the measures are lack of philosophy of gender equality at work and lack of countermeasures covering the whole life of women.

 

  Realizing gender equality at work is not an easy task. Policies must result in changes in life. The will of government and its implementation and changes among member of the society are prerequisite for it. We call for the government stronger following measures.

 

 

2017. 12. 26

 

Korean Women Workers Association and Korean Women's Trade Union

Posted by KWWA

 

Beyond discrimination and hatred, gender equality toward democracy

:Nothing justifies discrimination and hatred

 

 

 

  The government born out of candlelight revolution should make policies reflecting "candlelight" citizens' voice and pursue them. They demanded a genuine democratic society where no one is discriminated and marginalized and where everyone is respected and their voices are respected. We are concerned that the National Assembly and the government do not reflect candlelight citizens’ voices. They even show moves to accept demands from hatred groups.

 

  Recently some hatred groups distorted the meaning of 'gender equality’ and incite and foster discrimination and hatred. These groups interrupted discussions about constitutional reform which were held around the country under the pretext to block a constitutional reform for gender equality. They even almost canceled a public hearing for Master Plans for Gender Equality Policies on 16 Nov., which is indisputable violence having broken democratic principles in public sphere. The groups aggravated discrimination and incite hatred in the name of religion and this is just like insulting their own religion. Religions fundamentally aim for humanity but they damage their reputations and values by themselves.

 

  What is more problematic is that the government moves toward accepting voices from the hatred groups. In the plenary session of the Special Committee for Constitutional Reform in the National Assembly in late November, some lawmakers demanded to change the term ‘gender equality’ into ‘gender equality between man and women’ in the Constitution, which was followed by media reports of the announcement from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family on 15 December 2017. Media reported that it would change the term 'gender equality' into 'gender equality between men and women' in Master Plans for Gender Equality Policies. Korean Women's Association United and other women's organizations announced statements in protest against the move and the MoGEF said it uses gender equality mixed with gender equality between men and women.

 

  The MoGEF's mixed use of both terms, ‘gender equality’ and ‘gender equality between men and women' goes against the spirit of candlelight protests where people demanded redressing discriminations. Therefore, the government born out of hope of women who kept defending the candlelight must change the name of the act 'Framework Act on Gender Equality between Men and Women' into 'Framework Act on Gender Equality' and use the term 'gender equality.' The term 'gender equality between men and women' used by the hatred group is to exclude sexual minorities and condone discriminations against them. 'Gender equality' policies are measures to address gender inequality and discrimination, hatred and exclusion. 'Gender equality' is a basic human right in the perspective of individual right which is enshrined in the Constitution and must not be violated by any reasons.

 

  The National Assembly should push ahead with the unwavering constitutional reform for gender equality faithful to the spirit of popular sovereignty and representative system. The reform must be to reduce gender discrimination for the sustainable society. The MoGEF, as a responsible department for gender equality policies, must clarity fundamental principles and related contents and keep its own way to gender equality. This is the way to remove deep rooted evils in women polices while it does meet its obligation.

 

 We will keep close eye on the announcement of Master Plans for Gender Equality Policies expected on 20 Dec 2017.

 

 

2017. 12. 18

 

Korean Women's Association United and Seven sections and 28 member organizations affiliated with it

Posted by KWWA

  The National Assembly passed an amendment of Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act (Equal Employment Act) reinforcing employer's duty on sexual harassment at work on 9 November 2017. It's been 18 years since a new article on sexual harassment was included in the law. Despite, sexual harassment has not been rooted out in work places and a recent sexual harassment at Hanssem Inc. demonstrated the seriousness of sexual violence and harassment in the society. Although the amendment has been belatedly passed in the National Assembly, it has significance in a sense that it reaffirms sexual harassment at work is not a personal problem but a problem that a company has official responsibility for. It has importance in that the law reinforces employer's duty on sexual harassment as well.

 

  The amendment stipulates that anyone can report an occurrence of sexual harassment on the job to the employer, and the employer is obligated to verity what is reported upon receiving or recognizing it, while taking measures to protect the victim including changing working site and paid leave. When a case of sexual harassment is verified, the employer has an obligation to take measures to protect the victimized worker and to take a disciplinary action against the perpetrator. It also bans any disadvantageous action on the victim. When an employer takes disadvantageous actions on a victim, the employer shall be punished by imprisonment with labor for not more than three years or by a fine not exceeding 30 million won and when an employer neglects to verify the harassment, to protect a victim or to take a disciplinary action against a perpetrator, the employer shall be punished by a fine not exceeding 5 million won. It also stipulates the employer's obligation to change working place on the request from the worker when a sexual harassment is committed by a customer. The employer is also obliged to provide paid leave on demand. And an employer shall be punished by a fine not exceeding 3 million won when an employer violates the obligations.

 

  The law before amendment had loopholes as it had poor regulations on the employer's responsibility for verification, a follow-up process and ban on disadvantageous actions, which led to poor protection on the victims. It was rampant that victims suffered secondary and further victimization and damages such as bullying at work and disadvantages in employment, which was well illustrated in the survey on victims by sexual harassment conducted by Seoul Women Workers Association in 2016. The survey found that 57% of the respondents experienced disadvantages at work after raising sexual harassment issues and 72% of them left company. The law lacked in articles by which workers were protected from sexual harassment committed by a customer and this led to frequent sexual harassments by customers.

 

  Only one out of 552 complaints in regards to sexual harassment at work submitted to the Ministry of Employment and Labor was prosecuted and 26 cases were dropped. 453 were ended as administrative closure. There are complains that courageous complaints would result in little effects because of narrow interpretation despite the fact that these sexual harassments take place among working relationships.

 

  The number of counselling about sexual harassment at work via Hot Line for Equality & Counselling for Equal Employment has increased every year and women labor movements have continuously made efforts to amend the law to reinforce employer's obligation to protect victims of sexual harassment at work. The amendment was desperate and urgent as sexual harassment was in violation of equal rights for women and right to work with dignity.

 

  The employer's obligation including protection on victims must be effectively reinforced by taking the amendment as an opportunity. It is not a victim’s personal problem. This is why employers must carry the responsibility for verifying the case, taking disciplinary actions, and making efforts to prevent the recurrence of sexual harassment. The Ministry of Employment and Labour must have stronger responsibility to enact the amendment effectively. If it neglects its roles despite the fact that the law is amended, we cannot expect effectiveness of the amended law. Every corner of the society including employers and the government must continue to make efforts to make our workplace safe with gender equality and no sexual harassment.

 

 

2017. 11. 10

 

Posted by KWWA

<Press conference statement>

 “For women, all of corporation are Hanssem” Brave women,

vicious corporations and a broken system

 

 

 

 

We, coming together here, have been accusing and fighting for gender discrimination in the labor market. We have demanded fair treatment for women’s labor who are forced to marginalized work and urged the need of decent jobs from the start for youth women. In line with this, we have made efforts to dissolve gender pay gap, to abolish discrimination on placement and promotion, to remove unfair labor practice in regard to child-care leave, and to eliminate sexual harassment/violence at work that women suffers routinely. Testimonies of survivors from sexual harassment at work have been requesting the disciplinary action to perpetrators and prevention measures, together with redressing measures, for sexual harassment at work, gradually resulting in outcomes to some degree toward reinforcing corporation liability and social responsibility.

 

In recent, sexual violence occurred in Hanssem and Hyundai Card, leading companies, shows how women are used for sexual objectification in a corporation. What outrages us is that the incidents were committed by bosses who have power to make decision on victims’ employment, and the corporations, which is supposed to be liable, is irresponsible in redressing, rather producing other harms against the victims. The fact that the distorted prejudice, which frequently spoken against victims in sexual violence cases, such as ‘Ggotbaem, false accusation, being in love relationship, misunderstanding, and etc, are encountered in cases of sexual harassment at work shows that workplace, for women, is not different from our society which be packed with misogyny.

 

Above all, the sexual harassment cases occurred in Hanssem and Hyundai Card are not exceptional but represent the actual faces of all of companies and workplace in which women in our society work. more than 53% of women workers of LG Household & Health Care, carrying on a strike for 52 days, experienced sexual harassment, and 72% of them didn’t make a complain about it. They appeared not to trust redress system of the corporation on sexual harassment and testified that they faced employment disadvantage when they disobeyed. We have witnessed, once again, the damage of sexual harassment women undergo at work through the bold testimony of the sexual harassment victim of Hanssem. And we are outraged that the company and society don’t recognize it nor do they make efforts to redress legitimately, rather they use vicious media manipulation to return the responsibility to the victim.

 

Often women in low occupational status, in non-standard employment, and in young age are victims of sexual harassment but it occurs in any workplace where power relation exists including old ages, managerial positions, professionals. At the Equal Employment Counseling Center, counseling on a sexual harassment case has been skyrocketing over the years. Sexual harassment is not only damaging individual human right of the woman worker but also results in crisis in employment by disadvantageous treatment and dismissal. Therefore it is a serious violation of labor rights.

 

A notable case is the case of Samsung which violates the article 14 (2) of EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY AND WORK-FAMILY BALANCE ASSISTANCE ACT which prohibits disadvantageous measures against a victim of sexual harassment, rather incites bullying, exclusion from work, and giving low grade on the performance. The judgment of the court and decision of the Ministry of Employment and Labor on this case has been delayed for 4 years. In the meantime, more damage has occurred. It is the delinquency of duties of the court and the Ministry of Employment and Labor, and an organized violence against victims of sexual harassment who has accused, with bold courage, a large conglomerate, Samsung. 

 

Bold women corrected the broken system.

Yesterday, at National Assembly, the EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY AND WORK-FAMILY BALANCE ASSISTANCE ACT has been amended with contents to reinforce the employers liability on sexual harassment at work and to strengthen prohibition of disadvantageous treatment against a victim. It is one of the achievements brought by our action to testimony vigorously of, fight and be in solidarity against sexual harassment.

 

There should be no longer any woman who surrenders or leaves workplace because they are not able to cope with alone. We would stay with bold witnesses to alter the environment of corporations and our society so that corporations and social system all together never tolerate any sexual violence and gender discrimination.

 

 

 

 

2017. 11. 10.

 

KCTU Women committee, Woman labor law support center, Korea Women’s Trade Union, NGA/SF, Seoul Women Workers Association, Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, Korean Women Workers Association, Korean WomenLink, United Korea Women’s Association, United Kyeonggi Women’s Association, Daejeon Women’s Association for Democracy, Deagu Women’s Association, United Daegu&Kyeongbuk Women’s Association, National solidarity to solve the problem of prostitution, Jeju Association for Women’s rights, Jeju women’s Association, Pohang Women’s Association, Women Migrants Human Rights Center of Korea

 

Posted by KWWA