'2018/05'에 해당되는 글 10건

  1. 2018.05.28 ● [Postscript] The 4th Kim Kyung-suk Award when a woman in 1970 and a woman in 2017 met together- documented by volunteer Jung, Seungee
  2. 2018.05.28 [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
  3. 2018.05.28 Beyond discrimination and hatred, gender equality toward democracy
  4. 2018.05.28 [Comments] KWWA welcomes National Assembly passed an amendment of Equal Employment Act reinforcing employer's duty on sexual harassment at work
  5. 2018.05.24 “For women, all of corporation are Hanssem” Brave women,
  6. 2018.05.24 [Statement] demand government of a comprehensive measure to eliminate sexual violence and harassment at work!
  7. 2018.05.24 [Remarks] There is no gender equality in <5 year job policy roadmap> of Moon Jae In government!!
  8. 2018.05.24 The hope of Yellow Apron, Not 'market vitalization' but 'people' is the first! Hold a joint press conference to table a bill of 'domestic worker respect Act'.
  9. 2018.05.24 〔News〕Break gender discrimination! Break discrimination against non­regular workers! 'May 11th, the day to break wage discrimination against non­regular women workers: No Pay from Today!'
  10. 2018.05.24 [Forum for the presidential election agendas; Let Us Overcome Misogyny and Remodel Women's Work and Life ⑤]"If We Work Too Hard, We Will Only Run Ourselves to Death" – Our lives should be centered on our personal lives, not our paid­work

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


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


demand government of a comprehensive measure

to eliminate sexual violence and harassment at work!


The anger and frustration of survivors from a sexual violence and harassment at work is outpouring day after day. KWWA has been operating ‘Equal line’, a hotline for women workers since 1995. What we have learned in the process of resolving the received counseling cases is the views of the corporate and government bodies on the side of perpetrator.


When violence occurs, corporations try to conceal it by regarding it as a matter of the relationship of sexes or as a personal matter. There are few cases in which actions were taken to remove the perpetrator from the victim or to punish the perpetrator according to legitimate procedure. Rather, rumor about the case spreads out in the workplace, bullying and harassment toward the victim arise. The stigma such as a ‘Ggotbaem’ ‘you have been coming on to the guy” is always tagged along. There are even cases in which to take disciplinary action against victims or to dismiss victims. As perpetrators are in higher position in corporations, victims find it difficult to fight against these secondary victimizations.    


According to a fact-finding research by Seoul Women Workers Association in 2016, 57% of workplace sexual harassment victims have encountered disadvantaged measures by their companies. Disadvantageous measures such as ‘a disciplinary discharge, dismissal and other penalty on their professional ranked the first, along with ‘bullying, assault, abuse, and other psychological and physical damage’. It shows that the employer’s liability on the process of investigation and discipline and prohibition of disadvantageous measure regulated by law is too loose to protect victims. 


Victims screw up their all courage and file an appeal of sexual harassment at work into labor office, but are likely subjected to another hurt due to a lack of gender sensitive perspective of labor inspector and very limited range to accept as a case.  For instance, labor inspectors don’t consider sexual harassment/violence occurred at the venue of congregate dining after work as a case at work. It is determined too narrowly, even though it occurred in an unavoidable situation due to the obvious power relation at work. In actual, the number of sexual harassment cases filed in labor office was 552 and, among these, the only 1 case was prosecuted. Apart from it, non-prosecution disposition was for 26 cases, fine was for 66 cases and closure was for 453 cases.


Victims of sexual violence at work, if the case goes to police, encounter once again frustration in the process of investigation. The police investigation, for victims who are intimidated thoroughly, is a continuation of suffering due to overbearing attitude. Even a client was told “it is because you are pretty” by police. After underwent all sorts of hardship, and privation, if it is turned over to prosecution, prosecution demands victims of being victims. It is verified finally as a victim only she is totally as broken as she can’t do anything. Also the prosecution requires a contradiction that victims should not be in calm but their statement should be consistent. If they are not meet criteria of being victims, their case would be dropped as non-prosecution disposition.


 ‘The perpetrator likes the victim, the victim responded nicely on the messenger, the victim drunk heavily, the perpetrator don’t remember anything, …’ all of this excuses work against victims. However sexual behavior is not accepted without consent of counterpart no matter whether the perpetrator likes her/him, and moreover women workers who relatively belong to lower position of the power hierarchy at work can’t help but to be kind on a messenger with the employer or bosses. It is absolutely neither ok to rape a victim because the victim is drunk, nor does it mean that the perpetrator is not guilty because he/she has no memory. Also it is possible for victims to bring the case of sexual harassment up after several years. During the time, victims have been dwelling on the case over thousands and a million times. However, with ridiculous reasons, perpetrators get away with the cases and retain their status as it was.


The fact that sexual harassment/violence at work is so prevailing and grave is strongly attributed to the status of unrespected women workers, including misogyny in our society, lower status in the hierarchy of the company, and excessive low rate of women. Overbearing and hierarchical workplace culture as well as frequent congregate dining with drinking and entertainment culture has also affect. Low level of gender sensitivity of officials at government bodies delays case resolving. The legal loopholes are too decisive. At the request of women groups including women workers association, Lee Yong Deuk, A member of National Assembly, tabled a bill to amend sexual harassment at work- related laws last August. The key of this amendment bill is to clarify the contents of disadvantageous action toward a victim and to reinforce employer’s liability by laying out concrete regulations on investigation procedure and disciplinary action as well as duty to investigate immediately once a case of sexual harassment is reported or happened to know. However, this bill is still pending before the assembly.


Last year, Marvin Zuker, a judge in Ontario, read out his verdict, “the core of sexual assault incident is the only ‘whether the other party has agreed?’.” Any behavior that the other party doesn’t say explicitly ‘YES’ is an outrage that the other party doesn’t agree with and therefore is an offence. In our society, when we could expect to have a government official, boss at work like Marvin Zucker. When dealing with sexual harassment/violence incidents, efforts should be made to resolve them, trying to resolve with victims at the center, not guessing from the perpetrators’ perspective. The awakening of government and member of society are needed. Sexual harassment/violence is an severe and direct violation against women’s rights to equality and to work with dignity. Government should be aware of the gravity of this problem and lays out a comprehensive measure to eliminate prevailing sexual harassment/violence in the workplace.


2017. 11. 9.





Posted by KWWA

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


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

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


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


2017. 10. 23


Korean Women Workers Association

Posted by KWWA



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




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


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


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


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


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


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





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


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


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


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


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


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




Posted by KWWA

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






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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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



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



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


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



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


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




‘The Smashing Performance’ Korean Women Workers Association



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


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


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


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


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





Posted by KWWA

On Feb. 23, 2017, a forum titled "Let Us Overcome Misogyny and Remodel Women's Work and Life" was held in the National Assembly of South Korea. It was jointly held by Korean Women Workers Association and Korean Women's Trade Union, along with six members of the National Assembly (Insoon Nam, Chairman at Gender Equality and Family Committee / Mihyuk Kwon and Okjoo Song, Democratic Party of Korea / Samhwa Kim and Yonghyeon Shin, People's Party / Jeongmi Lee, Justice Party). Through the five articles on OhmyNews, an online news website in South Korea, we Korean Women Workers Association will report on this forum. In this article, we will summarize our suggestions for the 19th presidential election agendas, as a wrap­up of this series.


'Is this a government?'; with this chant last winter in 2016, the people in South Korean society were not only asking to reform their government filled with injustice and corruption, but also crying in despair of difficulties of their lives. It's now or never. Before our lives get further broken, we desperately need policy making and enforcement based on a philosophy which cares about lives of each member of the people. Our new government's major task should be to make society where everyone's labor could be respected regardless of her/his gender. In this sense, we suggest the main philosophies of labor policy for our new government.


Korean Women Workers Association's suggestion for the 19th presidential election agendas



Labor policy for gender equality, Not for the utilization of women resources

In the 1970s, South Korean women workers suffered from low wages and terrible long working hours, under the name of 'a pillar of industry' to lay foundation for the nation's economic growth. Now, they are suffering from poor working conditions of part­time jobs, which were rashly made by the government to raise employment rate. South Korean women workers have never been the real subject in the government policy. South Korea's policy of women labor has never aimed for society where every single person can happily work regardless of her/his gender. All it has cared about is making policy to utilize women resources, as a means to enhance national competitiveness.


The problem is a philosophy. The false goal of policy makes impossible to aim for the happiness of each member of the people, which is the ideal goal of policy. New government's women's labor policy should be different from the previous 'utilization policy for women resources.' It should be clearly enacted as the 'labor policy for gender equality', as to realize gender equality at work. It must depart from outdated patriarchal ideology, which disparages women's paid labor as the 'sildeline' and justifies women workers' low wages based on beliefs in gendered division of labor. Also, the scale of policy should be expanded to abolish gender discrimination at the more structural and integrated level, not at the fragmented level only targeting women. This is because gender equality is an issue for everyone, and it takes everyone's efforts for its realization.


Starting point is the everyday lives of the most marginalized, non­regular women workers


Women workers are, in general, placed in the vulnerable position in the labor market. The problem gets even worse with discrimination against the non­regular workers. 53.8% of South Korean women workers work as non­regular workers, and their average monthly income is 1,230,000 won (approximately 1,100 US dollars), which is below the minimum wage and comprises merely 35.8% of regular men workers' average monthly income (as of August, 2016). Also, women make up 62.7% of 2,660,000 workers paid below the minimum wage.



Would it have been possible for these non­regular women workers to join the demonstrations against former president Park's government last winter? For those who are deprived of basic human rights, would it be possible to think of other than their own survival? Like walking on the edge, too precarious are their everyday lives. In 2014, one old mother and two daughters in Seoul took their own lives at the moment when their basic rights of survival could not be guaranteed any more as non­regular women workers. Policy making should start from concern for the most marginalized. The most critical task for the government is to guarantee rights of survival, and furthermore, rights of living a decent life.


We need solutions to employment disruption, not to career disruption


'Career disruption' means the situation in which married women's careers are interrupted due to their voluntary or involuntary exit from the labor market regarding their responsibility of childbirth or child­rearing. Behind its definition is hidden its complex background. Their low income even lower than their cost of childcare as well as their secondary position at work, which they would give up at any time without much regret. In South Korea, there are not many jobs for women that are decent enough to keep with their responsibility of housework and child­rearing, which is mainly attributed to the gender discrimination in the labor market.


Women workers' experience at work is hardly recognized as a career. Unlike aged men workers who are more likely recognized as professionally mature, aged women workers are often seen as those who are obsolete and no longer playing the 'eye candy' role at work. As women workers get older and experienced at work, they are supposed to be promoted to the managerial positions. However, once they experience such strong glass ceiling, they are kicked out of their career. These risks are faced by many women workers in their late 30s or early 40s, regardless of their career disruption related to childbirth and child­rearing. In this sense, it would be more correct to call these risks 'employment disruption' rather than 'career interruption.'


The previous solutions to career disruption are merely centered on reemployment, through such channels as part­time jobs, job training, or job placement. To this problem of 'employment disruption', we need more fundamental solutions.


Labor policy for individual independent workers, not for male breadwinners


In South Korea, family structures become more diverse than ever before, and the number of single households has dramatically increased. Far from this reality, most policies in South Korea are designed for the traditional family structure, which is composed of parents and two unmarried children. Policies are still based on the outdated 'male­breadwinner model', in which men are supporting their family's living while women are doing housework and child­rearing as homemakers. This model can be used to justify gender discrimination in the labor market. The model which would not recognize women workers as breadwinners, has helped to justify their low wages and exclusion from various types of benefits and pensions. These days in South Korea, it is not always possible for only men to support their family's living. Although women are always working, through paid or unpaid labor, given the male­breadwinner model, they have been just seen as the secondary workers.


It is just an outdated dream that all the adult women and men get married and have children. We should recognize that a variety of life choices and ways of life are also possible. This recognition would be possible only based on the policy model in which every single member of the people is seen as an independent individual. This model should be the foundation of the overall government policy, which includes not only labor, but also housing and welfare policy.


Life should be centered on individual living, not on paid work


In South Korea, most people's lives center around paid work. Get-togethers as well as overtime work at night or over the weekend, which all are common in Korean companies, make South Korea ranked third for working hours among the OECD countries. Long working hours take up time for each individual's living. Unless given enough time to take a rest, cook and eat healthy food, look after our family members, and care social and political issues around ourselves, we will be easily exhausted physically, mentally, and socially.


Behind South Korea's long working hours, there exists its outdated working culture, which makes it possible that companies employ only two for the job for three, or that workers are expected to join their get­together until dawn. All of this is based on Korean companies' disrespect for their employees' individual living and delusion that with an employment contract they bought employee's 24 hours. Sometimes, such long working hours are made possible by the workers themselves, as to compensate for their low wages. However, 'if we work too hard, we will only run ourselves to death.' Before too late, workers need to get back their own individual living. Paid work, the means of our life should be no longer confounded with its end. Life should center around each individual's living, not around paid work or companies. South Korea's new government needs to design its labor policy as to return to workers their individual life. We need a fundamental change in our working conditions as to make society where workers can live a decent life without overwork and can be no longer forced to work overtime.


Men are also responsible for housework and childcare


The biggest problem of South Korean work­family balance policy is that it is only targeted at women and concerned about supporting their childcare. And this leads South Korean government to promote women's part­time work, given its idea that women's paid work can be supported only when it does not hinder their childcare.


The problem is men do not see themselves as caretakers for housework and childcare. On the contrary, with their unequal burden of housework and childcare, woman are expected to be a superwoman; when they come home from work, they start their second shift. All of this makes a great gap in hours for housework and childcare between genders. Companies favor men employees as those who would work overtime at night or over the weekend, which justifies their gender discrimination. However, it should be recognized at the social as well as individual level that men are also responsible for housework and childcare.


We need to change our ways of thinking. We need to relieve women's unequal burden of housework and childcare, which would not be made possible only through policy change. Based on the model of double­caregivers, we need to design policy and change family and working culture, as a way to make sure that it is all family members who are responsible for their housework and childcare.



Posted by KWWA