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