Jun, 2000
A edition committee member of KWWA
Translator: Angela Kang
Copy-editor: Rebecca Branford



With My Name....

◑ Focus1. Different Rallies but a Unified Voice   4
2. Working life, Determined life   8

◑ Feature
1. Where are women workers since the economic crisis   9
2. Workers, but not recognized as workers   13

◑ Life story written by Park, Min-na
A woman who wants to retire as a factory worker   16

◑ Voices from the workplace
1. Apology should be made even for getting bitten by a mad dog   23
2. Unjust dismissal in accordance with the law?  26
3. They were not called union members but restaurant Ajoomma   28

◑The Action Center for Women's UnemploymentJob-seekers doing it for themselves    30

◑ Equal Rights CounsellingCounseling Cases from January & February   36

◑ News  40

  Translator: Angela Kang  Copy-editor: Rebecca Branford

Korea Working Women's Network 2000

Posted by KWWA

With my name...    

Jin Kyung Bae, Publication Officer of KWWAU

 When we call to person, who is not very close, and somebody else answers the phone. "Who's calling please?", "Oh, yes, um..." In many cases, we try to explain the relation to the person, for instance, a friend, a colleague, etc. It is quite uneasy to give name. Names are supposed to be used by others not for addressing oneself. Particularly, we, women, as a mother, a daughter, a daughter in law, etc., are not familiar with being called by our name.
  Why haven't we said our own names? Generally we feel a responsibility for the situation if we mention our name in the situation.  Sometimes, we over-think the situation. Especially when we insist on something with our own name, we feel a stronger sense of defense. We worry about what others would think about the opinion or if there will be any harm.

  When we have to confront employers in the workplace, many of us are reluctant to stand out in front. This is to avoid any harm or difficult situation. In other words, none of us want to victimize their own name. In many cases, workers try to avoid participating even though there is much possibility of a triumph in the struggle because it will expose their names. We often receive calls from the husband, father, or lover of women through counseling center. They want to get help for their wife, daughter, or lover. To the question of why the women themselves do not give a call, they answer that they do not want to expose their names. Then they want to know what the counseling center can do for them.
  What can the counseling center do? We answer, "Nothing!" We can do our best to help our clients when they ask for "What I can do?, What I must do?, or What action can I take?"
  The self-esteem of women workers can be enhanced when the women workers can speak their own

 names. Let's speak our own names. We can restore our rights as much   as we work on that with our own name.

Korea Working Women's Network 2000

Posted by KWWA


Different Rallies but a Unified Voice

Jin Kyung Bae, Publication Officer of KWWAU

In this opening year of the new century, women workers placed particular emphasis on the celebrations of March 8, International Women's Day. Three nationwide rallies were held. Until last year, the rally was organized jointly by KWWAU, the FKTU (Federation of Korean Trade Unions) and the KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions).

  This year, each organization organized its own rally. On March 5th, KWWAU and the Korean Womens Trade Union (KWTU) jointly organised a "Korean Women Workers' Rally", on March 8th, the FKTU held a "National Women Workers' Rally", and on March 11th, the KCTU held a "National Women Workers' Rally."  
  Even though three rallies were held in different places and on different days, the message each one sent was the same: calling attention to the problem of the increasing rate of irregular based women workers and in support of maternity protection. All three rallies took the expansion of organization among women workers as their sub-theme.

 KWWAU, however, included in its focus the application of the Labor Standard Law in small workplaces with less than 4 workers and the increase of the minimum wage.

  KWWAU and the KWTU focused on the problems of women workers in unorganized and poor workplaces and hence, there were some differences in emphases. Each organization worked hard to express their demands in a unified voice, but each unit was able to prepare for the event without spending hours in discussion with other units.
  KWWAU suggested to both the KCTU and FKTU that they organize a single joint rally, but it did not work.






Title of

Korea Women Workers' Rally

National Women Workers' Rally

National Women Workers' Rally


Expansion of organized women workers Guarantee the rights of irregular women workers

Expansion of
organized women
workers and
realization of equality

Equal employment
and expansion of
maternity protection

of the

▲Without any discrimination of employment form, full application of the Labor Standard Law and social Insurances ▲Full applica- tion of the Labor Standard Law in workplace with less than 4 workers ▲Stop moving regular base to irregular base
▲Shortening working time and guaranteeing the three labor rights ▲Increase of minimum wage ▲Expansion of maternity leave to 90 days and guarantee for the maternity expenses from the social insurance ▲Counter- measures for the sexual abuse and violent and insulting words ▲Guarantee employment after the maternity leave ▲Expansion of social welfare facilities
▲Strenghten the administrative control over the labor problem of women workers

▲Struggle for
working 40 hours and 5 days per a week
▲To improve the discriminated wage
and working condition
of the irregular
workers ▲Application of the Labor Standard Law for women  
workers ▲Struggle for the realization of maternity protection
in a society
▲To organize women workers in the irregular base, poor workplace, and
unorganized workplace
▲To guarantee the life long labor right
in the light of

▲Opposing the
irregularization of
women workers
▲Application of four main social insurance and the Labor
Standard Law for the irregular women
workers ▲Stop canceling a monthly leave ▲To extend the maternity leave to 90 days ▲To leave the responsibility of the expenses for birth delivery/ child-care/
child education to
society ▲No more
night work which
destroys maternity
protection ▲To guarantee gender equal employment

  The KCTU said, "The women workers' sector was led by female organization while the trade union movement was in the process of growth. Now we are capable of leading the women workers' movement, and therefore, the KCTU declares KCTU rally of this year as the first March 8th International Women's Day rally."  This statement was released in the Daily Labor News on March 6th. (Interview with Ms. Jin Seon Kim, the Chief Director of Women's Department)
  We cannot expect the fervent solidarity achieved in 1998 and 1999 unless we try to unite and overcome organizational differences. But, in the event, the new century began with each unit within the organization of women workers declaring its own targets in its own way. One thing remains clear: we shall be struggling for the extension of organization of women workers, restoration of irregular women workers' rights, and the socialization of maternity protection. There is no doubt that we can accomplish our goals if we make wise decisio

ns at every step.                                                          

  A big forum for women workers, including a video presentation on the history of the Korean women workers' movement, a performance of 'Oreum', a 'Finale Festival', an announcement of the establishment of the action center of the organization for Irregular Women Workers' Rights, etc. This forum displayed the strength of the struggle for irregular women workers and their legal rights.

KWWAU and KWTU rally (March 5, Yonsei University Conference Hall)


  All the participants wore violet- colored scarves and marched from the park to Myongdong Cathedral shouting slogans promoting equal employment and the socialization of maternity protection. (Photo by Labor and World)

 KCTU Rally (March 12/ Jongmyo Park)

  Rhythmic drumming, a drama by Y대, a performance by Kkoddaji, etc. set the scene for an event in which women encouraged each other and celebrated women workers' day. The FKTU is planning to accelerate its struggle for employment stability and against discrimination.

 FKTU Rally (March 8/ Yonsei University)

Korea Working Women's Network 2000

Posted by KWWA


Sketch from Korea Women Workers' Rally

Working Life, Determined Life

Mi Sook Kim, Educational Researcher in Puchon WWA

Plancards in one hand and the hands of their children in the other, the women workers gathered, full of excitement. What had brought them here? What had compelled them to get up at dawn, wake up their little children and travel such a long way to this place?

 The answer is the KWWAU Rally, attended by our senior members, former political prisoners, young female university students, and the women workers carrying their little children.
  The first program invited all the participants to share their greetings. Each unit gave a performance - amateur perhaps, but warmly welcomed by the other participants. A video presentation on "The history of the Women Workers' movement in the 20th Century" followed. The suffering struggle of women workers during the Japanese colonial period reflected the present-day reality. Has there been historical development? I was very confused. What will be the reality facing the women workers in tens of years' time? What shall we do?

Even though we shall ourselves disappear into history, we may be proud of ourselves, for struggling and confronting these social contradictions.
  Through the cultural session, we understood that all the stories are related to our reality. The establishment of the "Action center for Restoring Irregular Women Workers' Rights" organization and the declaration of our resolution gave shape to our future direction.
  On the way home, we shared personal reflections on our participation in the rally. One felt something very warm and hot deep in her heart, one felt that she had just got up from a long winter sleep with new hope, one vowed to her deep commitment.We confirmed our fellowship and solidarity through sharing these words.  
  People say that the economic situation is getting better. About 44% of corporations are planning to recruit new employees and the reasons for that are "replacing the dismissed labor force" and "business expansion with the economic

 recovery". However the economic crisis has resulted in a widening gap between the rich and poor,

Korea Working Women's Network 2000

Posted by KWWA


Irregular women workers can stand up
for their rights!


KWWAU and KWTU established their "Action Center for Restoring Irregular Women Workers' Rights" on March 5. The transfer of women workers to irregular based working positions is increasing, and women are the primary victims of the shift towards irregular working positions. Workers in irregular positions lack legal protection of their basic rights as workers. The ACRIWWR takes the struggle for the legal protection as its priority. "Working Women" will continue to deliver news of the ACRIWWR's activities.

Where are women workers since the economic crisis? - Proclaiming the "Action Center for Restoring Irregular Women Workers' Rights"

Ji Hyun Kim, (Head of Publicity & Education Dept. of KWTU)

People say that the economic situation is getting better. About 44% of corporations are planning to recruit new employees and the reasons for that are "replacing the dismissed labor force" and "business expansion with the economic recovery". However the economic crisis has resulted in a widening gap between the rich and poor, and the expansion of irregular work conditions.
  After the economic crisis, the transfer of women workers to irregular-based working position escalated. Some corporations transferred women workers from regular work positions to irregular work positions, some corporations forced women workers to quit or move to an irregular work position, and some corporations dismissed women workers and replaced them with temporary workers or dispatched workers. This phenomenon has been seen in every job area.

  According to research entitled "Flow analysis of labor force conditions in the first half of 1999" from the Korea Labor Institute, only 7.8% of newly recruited women workers in the first half of 1999 were regular workers.  Of course the present labor law is supposed to protect the rights of the workers in every form. However irregular workers are not protected by the law. In fact, the unequal treatment towards irregular workers is generally accepted.
  The situation of the irregular women workers can be categorized as follows:

No protection of basic rights due to lack of recognition as workers- Home tutors, golf caddies, insurance agents, delivery workers, etc.

  The common factor of the jobs identified above is that they were formerly regarded as workers, but since the flexibilization of the labor market, they have been regarded as freelancers.    In addition, these jobs are regarded as women's jobs. However, they all are supervised by managers of companies and they are almost all completely controlled by the companies. In practice, they are not freelancers at all. However they do not get any protection or benefit from the Labor Standard Law because they are regarded as freelancers. Domestic helpers are also excluded from the application of the Labor Standard Law because their employment status is ill-defined.

All the cooks in school were transferred to irregular base- Licensed school cooks illustrate the problems

  "Privatization of school meals = low quality of meals + forcing licensed cooks into irregular positions"
 The above formula has been at work all over the country. In the privatization of school meals, food companies and restaurants submit their bidding prices to schools. The company with the highest bidding price is selected. The chosen company or restaurant provides low quality meals in order to recover the money lost. Often they transfer their regular cooks to irregular positions in order to decrease labor costs. We have received many appeals from Seoul, Taejon, and Masan & Changwon, among others. The primary complaint of the cooks is their insecure employment condition. The second complaint concerns wages, which have decreased 20- 30% compared to that earned in their former regular work conditions.

Dispatched workers- suffering double trouble, from legal employers and actual employers

  "Where can we lodge appeal about unjust dismissal? Should it be the employer by law or our actual employer?" The hint here is that the real employer, who dismissed the employee, has no legal responsibility.
  The dispatched worker makes a contract with a dispatch company - the employer by law - but he or she is hired by an actual employer who has no legal responsibility for the dispatch employees. If the actual employer gives notice of dismissal, the dispatched employee has no way to appeal. The dismissals by Daewoo Motor Co. in Masan & Changwon are a good example. The company dismissed all dispatch women workers from a dispatch company. The dismissed workers appealed to the company but the company denied responsibility. The dispatch company insisted that they were sacked by Daewoo Motor Co. But was it possible to appeal to the Daewoo? No way. This is impossible in accordance with the present law.
  "On July 1st, 1998, the law regarding dispatched workers was

established, and a number of dispatch companies were legalized. The dispatch workers business has expanded owing to the economic crisis and subsequent dismissals. The only article in the law to protect the dispatched workers states, "Two years of continuous work in the same workplace guarantees transfer to a regular base." Most of the companies avoid hiring workers for more than two consecutive years. The companies dismiss workers before the two-year period or force them to renew their contract before completing two years.

  "Where are women workers now? And how far can they endure the present situation?"
  The situation confronting women workers is rapidly becoming turmoil. Transferred from regular to irregular positions, they face much worse labor conditions and insecure employment.


We must work to STOP the present trend and realize the application of the Labor Standard Law for irregular women workers. In order to achieve our goals, the women workers themselves must first of all understand the situation and their rights and fight to publicize their situation in our society. We must conduct campaigns letting people know about the hardship and suffering of women workers. We must force unjust employers to admit to their actions. Change can come from a clear perception of the situation.  


Women workers are proclaiming "Protectors"

in the opening ceremony of the establishment of ACRIWWR

Korea Working Women's Network 2000

Posted by KWWA


Workers, but not recognized as workers
- Caddies in the dead angle ground of legal protection

Sang Lim Choi, President of KWTU

 KWTU has been busy with a new protest campaign from the very beginning of this year. This is because, while the whole country was excited with the new millenium and hope for the new century, women workers were being dismissed due to turning forty. They were caddies at the Yongin Plaza Golf in Hanhwa Resort. Normally we regard the age of forty not as the age of retirement but as one of the most active, enthusiatic and energetic period in the workplace. The dismissed caddies were very well trained and they had worked there for ten to seventeen years when whole country was excited with a new millenium and hope for the new century. Here the problem had nothing to do with working skill or capacity but was related to gender discrimination. They were just estimated by outlook appearance and age.

  Their employer was able to dismiss them with ease, because caddies are not protected by the Labor Standard Law. Since the 1980s, the occupational sectors which employ a majority of women workers get less legal protection. In many sectors, women workers are not regarded as workers and therefore lack legal protection. Even now, controversy rages over whether they are workers or not. Taking the case of the caddies as representative, let's look into the reality in depth.

Caddies living under the dead angle ground of legal protection

  Over the past few years, public interest in golf has increased owing to Korean successes in several important international golf tournaments. However, it is not well known that caddies have suffered in their dead angle ground of legal protection. At present, there are about twenty thousand caddies in Korea. Their work is of a service nature, and they have been kicked out of their workplaces in middle age in spite of fact that it is often considered a time to work more.
As the Labor Standard Law fails to provide them with any protection, they have to take full responsibility for any kind of industrial accident and have no way to appeal, even if they suffer abuse from their clients. This has been their reality.


Protest demonstration by caddies protesting against the earlier retirement at the age of forty in front of the Hanhwa Group Building

The duties of a caddy include carrying golf equipment during games, delivering golf clubs to their clients, looking for balls, cleaning balls, and taking care of grass damaged by golfers - even though regulations state the golfers themselves are supposedto be responsible for this. In addition, caddies must have a full understanding of the game rules, weather, wind direction, courses, and some information about their clients such as their habits, swing forms, and characteristics in order to carry out the role of a caddy well. It could be seen as professional service work. They have the duty to provide a good service but do not get a good return for their service.

Insecure employment

  In 1989, some pregnant women who worked as caddies delivered deformed babies, causing widespread alarm.
In 1998, a caddy fell down during a game and later died. A caddy's leg was seriously injured after being struck by the wheel of a golf cart. Some caddies were hurt by the swinging golf clubs of their clients. In all these instances, the caddies were regarded as the ones at fault. If clients choose to take some part of the responsibility, the caddy is fortunate. If they don't, tough luck: caddies receive no other form of protection. Urgent measures are needed against these kinds of industrial accidents.

Unjust treatment, inhumane treatment

  When some clients experience unsatisfactory play, they sometimes vent their feelings on the caddies and even turn physically violent. This is due to the distorted perception of the function of caddies. These unexpected incidents must be prevented in order to protect the caddies' human dignity.

Sexual abuse within the workplace

 While the game is played, some thoughtless clients commit verbal, physical, and subtle sexual abuse against caddies. In the case of Pusan Country Club, the club forced caddies to accompany with their clients for drinks. Therefore in the case of Yooseong Country Club, the workers' union included investigation of the conflict between caddies and clients in their labor and management negotiations in 1999. According to the results of negotiation, in the case of client misconduct, the client will be warned.

Apply the Labor Standard Law to all working women

  One of the main tasks of ACRIWWR is to apply the Labor Standard Law to the women workers who work in the dead angle ground of law.  The more women work, the louder their voice. More women workers are speaking up for their rights. The trade union of caddies has been established and a constant struggle has been waged to restore the jobs of the dismissed caddies. The struggle for the application of the Labor Standard Law for the caddies has been carried out unceasingly. In 1999, the home tutors with Wisdom supplementary texts, one of the leading home visiting teaching company, conducted a strike, and they are now in the process of labor and management negotiations. Only the voices which break the silence, saying "We are not the uncomplaining workers any more, who do as they are told", and the women who insist upon their rights, will lead ACRIWWR to success.

Korea Working Women's Network 2000

Posted by KWWA

Life Story Written By Park, Min-na

A woman who wants to retire as a factory worker
- Ms. Bok Seon Oh, Inchon WWA member -

Min Na Park,
Edition committee mimber of KWWAU

Bok Seon Ajuoomma has happy and enjoyable work. There are three male workers and two female workers in her small factory. She receives only fifteen thousand won per day but she never does an extra work. It is not because she has two little kids but she believes that she can work for her life time only when she work with joy. She started working in a factory when she was in elementary school. She could stop working in a factory but, she says that she would like to complete her life as a woman factort worker. She has lived her best. I met her and listen to her 34 years' story. She has always lived a busy life, and could not remember exact year or date.

A kid in a hill estate

  She was born as the third daughter in a hill village on September 5, 1967. Her father, as the eldest son by the first born son, expected a son. Four years after her birth, her brother was born. When the brother was sick and all his family went to the hospital, she, as a six years old kid, cooked rice for the first time. Half of the rice was burnt and the rest was not cooked. The bitter taste of the burnt rice was a preview of her suffering life.
  Hill village are always full of tension by the violence of the demolition corps. She still remembers seeing the sky on getting up in the morning when she was seven years old. The roof was taken away by the demolition corps. She wondered seeing the sky instead of the roof. At that time, there was a violent fight between the demolition corps and residents. Some people even died during the fight. However she does not remember the bad memories. She had lots of friends and her memory of the hill estate is full of joys and happiness though she had to live in a tent after demolition of her house.
  "We took my father's small truck to move to a new house provided by the government. We were going into a deep mountain. I was thinking if it's possible to have a house in such a deep valley. Anyway I was very excited in moving to a new house not a tent. Arriving at the place, we found a house only with a frame. It was like a toy."
  No electricity, no windows, .. They had to live in a tent again and her father had to use spare time to complete the house. They spent that winter in a tent and there was lots of snow in that winter.

Sacrifice of twenty thousand won scholarship to repay debt

  It was impossible for a poor family kid to have a new clothes. The freckles on her face made a distance between her and her friends. She was isolated from her classmates. Her teacher was partial to certain students. For her, poverty and appearance were a serious disaster. Therefore she lost words and just studied. She was the best at study among her brother and sisters.
 "My father sold his small truck and we were getting poorer and poorer. I often observed quarrels of my parents due to problems. The school tuition fee was only 650 won at that time. I was quite sure of the same situation in a senior school therefore I gave up going to the senior school. My parents did not mention about my schooling but I remembered their comments. I used to write letters for the old neighbors who could not write. Looking at me writing letters for the neighbors, my parents said that women need to learn until they can write a letter.  In September when I was in the 6th grade, I started working in a factory. If I could be a heroin of the TV program, "TV with Wave of Love", I would like to look for my teacher of the 6th grade.
" My teacher was very sorry for my situation. When my teacher knew that I worked in a factory, he went to the factory and had a quarrel with the owner. My teacher protested against the child labor.  He made a arrangement for a scholarship of twenty thousand won. The junior high school tuition fee was W24,500. Of course the scholarship was used for repaying the family debt. At that time I hated my parents and determined myself to save money to go to senior school. However, I can understand my parents since I have become a mother. My mother has kept the envelope of the scholarship until now and she always feels sorry for that.

A Gongsooni of a textile factory

  After graduating from elementary school, her total factory life started. She took the company bus at 6:50 and arrived at the factory at 8:20. She finally became a textile factory worker. The most joyful thing for her was to go to the night school run by a catholic church. She finished her work at 7:30pm then went to the night school which started at 8pm and ended at 11pm. She always took the last bus back home. She came home at mid night and studied until 2am. She had to do over-night work once per week. On the day of over-night work, she had to go back to the factory after the class in the night school. Due to her hard work, she passed the Qualifying Exam for the junior high school course
  "I am not so sure but it could be when I was about seventeen years old. My father was collapsed by paralysis. I gave up taking another Qualifying Exam for the senior high school course. My mother carried goods to sell on the streets but, I still had to act as a family leader since my older sisters all married. A year after, we had to move house. We could not fix the house because of debts. So, we sold out our house and moved to a rented flat. My mom, who never cried before, cried a lot  moving  house."
 I am sure that it was not only her mother that cried. Talking about her mother's crying, her eyes turn red.

Being a dismissed worker due to the YMCA activities

  Her factory was bankrupted, and she moved to another textile factory which had a dorm. Seven workers shared one room. It was not very convenient but she could be free from her family. It was also good to live with her colleagues.
  "I always visited my family on my pay day. I used to buy cookies, cigarettes, and Soju(Korean whisky) for my father, meat or pork for my mother, and some snacks for my brother. It seems that my family still recall the memory of my visit."
  Everybody has a turning point in his or her life. A year after working in a new factory, her friend introduced the YMCA to her. YMCA provided her a turning point.
  "It was a kind of play class. They taught me that the monthly pay, I received, should be called as wage. I learned how to account my wage and singcurious songs.  It was a lot of fun. I had lots of curiosity to learn new things. It was politically very tense due to the change of the national constitution. I carried circulars with my YMCA friends and it made my factory managers very nervous.(laughing)"
  According to her expression, she was dismissed for her activities with YMCA. She laughed to talk about this which could be a suffering memory. In her next factory she had to take a turn for day work and night work. She spent a year very quitely. One day, some of the workers began to work for organizing a trade union. Finally they came to her.
  "In a word, organizing a union, I was again organized as an activist. I became a chairman of our dorm and a leader in charge of organizing. I organized climbing club, fishing club, traditional rhythm instrument club, etc. I still had to take care of my family and visit other organizations. I never slept more than three hours. And I came to know about KWWAU."

Inchon WWA members who are more precious than family

 I spent three years in a rush then, I was exhausted. She was also very much bothered by her brother who was too much dependent on her. In November, 1990, she just moved to Inchon where her eldest sister lived.
 Her contact with the Inchon WWA started like this. At the beginning, her sister admired her as a patriot but her sister could not stand her busy life without any concern for marriage. She had a big fight with her sister and left her sister's house. Since she had no place to stay, she stayed in the Inchon WWA office. 14 staff of the Inchon WWA were her the biggest wall she could rely on. For her WWA is like a parents' house and the staff is more than her family.
  "The year of 1991 was full of struggle. I entered a new factory where they had no union. Six months after, the factory was closed by bankruptcy. I was very sad and cried a   lot. I felt as if I lost my job in the factory where I worked for more than ten years. I had lots of things to worry about living in Inchon which was very new to me. A while after, WWA gave me the position of Manager of the Culture Dept. I spent another six months in struggle activities."

  Her naughty eyes looked bright speaking about her activities. She looks very small and pretty. But I could imagine her militancy.
  "It was hard since membership was decreased. We encouraged each other and learned unity. We also learned the process of being a militant. Of course there were conflicts and disagreements in the learning process but, all those experiences became seeds for my life."
  They had a over-night sit in in order to protect property. Even though the process of struggle was very hard, they made good achievements that the arrested workers were released and they received 6 months of wages as dismissal allowance. They could not maintain regular meetings but they still meet from time to time. She still feels warm feeling whenever she recalls her colleagues who were with her in the struggle.

Pregnant woman with RH- blood

 "I entered a new factory in 1993. There were five male workers and one of them was outstanding(laugh). One day he told me that he had a nightmare. So, I asked him to go for a drink. When we came out from a singing room, it was snowing. You maybe able to guess our feelings(laugh). I had a long walk with him."
  They have not had a wedding ceremony. Three years after she worked in the factory, they promised to live together for a million years. However her in-law family to be proposed to postpone their wedding since her husband's elder brothers were not yet married.
  "I miscarried several times so that I had a precise medical check. I came to know that I had RH- blood. Doctors told me that my baby would die even though I succeeded to carry them for ten months. But I did not give up. For the first delivery, doctors told me that an operation would be more dangerous. Therefore I took three days to deliver the first child. Doctors said that it was a very rare case(laugh). The baby weighed only 1.9Kg so that he was in an incubator for a month. I guess, the happiest day of my life was the day
when my baby was discharged from hospital. One hundred days after the first delivery, I got pregnant again. I thought God was going to give me two fortunes and decided to have second baby. Ha, Ha, Ha!"
  Fortunately the second baby was 3.5Kg and everything carried on  normally.  The doctor said that he did not want to see her pregnancy again.  It was because she got through so hard situation.

 Returned to the factory                               with her husband in the camp of InchonWWA(Aug., 1994)

      She started working again since her husband's business met a crisis. Her children were too young to let their mother work. Therefore she did some part time jobs that could be done at home for one and half year.  Then she entered into a factory where was a child care center run by the factory. While she worked in the factory, her husband failed in his business and his debt was increased.  Her factory was in a distance with her house and there were lots of extra works. The whole atmosphere of her family was a mess.  Her kids got sick often and the house was full of mess.
  "I have never thought that living life is hard. I just can say that I have had to pass a series of difficult situations. All of sudden, I was struck by a thought of why I have to live like this. I have been responsible for my family whole through my life even though there were lots of things that I wanted to do. I wanted to live freely. Hard working was not a problem for me at all. Only thing was that I wanted to live in peace and happiness. My friends began to worry about me. I was known as a happy woman enjoying work happily.  However, I became an exhausted woman."  

 The story should be a painful memory for her. But she talked the story very calmly. Her husband began to be very tensed by collapse of his wife who was very strong. One day, he gave her a letter. It was the first letter which his husband wrote. It was written in the letter, "Observing your collapsing, I seem to lose everything. Please believe me once more. I love you." The letter was very moving. Then he gave up his ambition towards his business and entered a factory. She was grateful of her husband and his decision. She could feel the strength of his love towards her and their kids. It gave her a new strength. She just quitted  her work in the factory and rested for a month. She changed her mind that it's OK even though we had nothing. The importance is to have a relax.

Strengthening hands

  It has been only a month since she has worked in a small factory. She is happy because her colleagues are all fine and good. She is the person who gets sick by stopping working. Her dream is to be the longest working woman. She does not expact more since she is happy with her family.
  Only task which she has to think about is the role as a member of WWA. As a mother and as a wife, she has had to do lots of duties, and she has not been able to carry on her role as a working woman.
 "I believe that because of kids or the father in law, who is living with her family, is all excuse reason. I may not dare to make my position within the working women's movement because I have been away for a long time. It seems that re-beginning is more difficult than new beginning. But, I have a faith that the work of WWA is my work and I will take up my role there in a near future."
  When can we see her active commitment in the Inchon WWA? We may need to seek for our role to bring her back to WWA. Because we should go together sharing our strength.  

Posted by KWWA

Voices from the workplace

Apology should be made even
for getting bitten by a mad dog

Soon Deuk Kim,
a member of Masan & Changwon Women Workers Assciation


Workplace life amid violent words

  From April 30, 1999, I started working in Sammyeung Ltd. My new career started with encouragement from my manager. He said that we should encourage each other and find good points in each other in order to overcome the economic crisis all over the country. However, the boss began to tame me as his company slave who cannot live outside of the company making use of the weak point of my age. He seemed to expect to have highly qualified robots, not human beings. Because of his fault,of signing the wrong paper, to his account,he threw away all the stuff on my desk and shouted at me. He spoke bad and violent words. I tried not to take his unreasonable behavior and words seriously. I believed that he might got to know me better if I tried to do my best. I tried to be rational so I could show a normal tempo to his anger. Then, he said, "My anger goes up to the highest, I will never scold you." He might be disappointed with my reaction. He might expect me to cry.

Boss, so proud of his hobby to make women cry

  Manager Moon was very difficult. He forced me to wear skirts. He added that making women cry was his favorite hobby so that all female employees working with him cried several times. He also said, "If women do not want to be hungry, the best way is to sleep with men in order to have ten months of guarantee. Do you know men?  As far as I know, women are willing to be naked in front of men by nature...." His verbal sexual abuse continued. Moreover, he used very bad and dirty words and even used violence. He was about to hit me with a key board. He once scratched my neck and pushed me. Whenever I was cornered by him, I really wanted to have a hot fry fan, to hit him but I could not.

Appeal to the Labor Hall

  It was like a nightmare to deal with my daily happenings. On August 12, I knocked on the door of the Labor Hall with my appeal. I tape recorded the violent and bad words of Manager Moon several times. On August 19, Manager Moon was called by the Labor Hall. The boss was like a mad man and he shouted at me. I also tape recorded his words, too. Manager Moon said, "Don't worry, boss. There shouldn't be any evidence. I will just give them my words and everything is going to be alright." I also did record. For myself, for those who have abnormal mentality, and for others like me, I determined to keep up my struggle even though I would become very shamed.  On August 12, I had a bit of physical confrontation with Manager Moon but, I dealt with the situation well. Manager Moon left the office with anger. The boss made an order that I should submit a resignation letter because I made an important employee so angry that he left for home. I took the recorded tapes, some account evidences, the copies of the resume of female applicants, etc. While we were investigated, I was hurt by their arrogant attitudes.

Apology in the district newspaper

  Of course we should not include private feelings in dealing with workloads. Due to all kinds of psychological situations, I did not have a professional spirit as a working woman at those time. I sued Manager Moon for sexual abuse, verbal violence, and physical violence and my boss for verbal and physical violence. I also submitted all the records and tape recordings as evidence. As a result, the company had to pay me consolation money and make a public apology. The Labor Superviser persuaded me to cancel the suit just taking the case as being bitten by a mad dog. I did not accept his commendation and carried out the procedure and the company made a public apology in the district newspaper of February 14 this year.

supporters bring me a victory

  Everything was possible owing to the constant support and encouragement of the KWTU and its themembers. There was a supporter who wrote the contents of the recorded words, that were hard to understand due to the bad condition of recording, and there was the chairwoman of Masan & Changwon WTU and more members who were my body guards at court. There were a lot more people who spared their times and energies to help me. One of them was scolded by her mother in law due to her extra time spent for me. One of them had to ask for an other's help to take care of her daughter who was hospitalized at that time. I was so grateful for their concern and love.
  When I made the first call to KWTU, I was quite reluctant to talk about my problem. I carefully spoke on the phone, "I heard very bad and dirty words from my boss and manager. I have been badly treated by them. What shall I do?" The replier had a very calm and soft voice which made me feel very comfortable and built a deep faith

in her. She advised me to leave records and to make a tape recording if possible. She also advised me to warn my boss and manager. She gave me very basic and sensible advice which helped me to be more rational about my situation. On one side, I thought that the replier was very cool. But all her guidance let me understand the procedure more systematically and fast. My acquaintance with the Women Workers Trade Union provided me a turning point in my life.
   I did not realize how much beautiful meeting new people was. Now things  are different. Now there are the people whom I miss so much and wait for the next meeting. Now I am in the union with beautiful people. I have not lived a long life yet but, I could say that I have leaned an important lesson in my life that every movement for defending my own rights forms a worker's movement.    I am now very proud of my membership in the Women's Trade Union.  

Korea Working Women's Network 2000

Posted by KWWA

Voices from the workplace

Unjust dismissal in accordance with the law?
- Confronting unjust dismissal of contract based workers

Gwi Hyang Jeon, a nurse in Eastern Red Cross Blood Bank

I worked in the Eastern Red Cross Blood Bank for seven years as a part time nurse. On November 25, 7 part time nurses, who worked for four to seven years, and 8 married women blood takers received a dismissal notice all of sudden. We were forced to sign the resignation letter. In December, another 15 were dismissed with the reasons that they worked for more than five years and had bad records. In fact, the bank released the recruit advertizement before giving them a dismissal notice.
  We were kicked out from our workplace and we wondered around to seek for a new job. We were very tired and did not know what to do.

We came to visit the KWTU and the KWTU staff welcomed us like parents and cared for our problems. We were the women who never had any serious quarrel with others therefore, we worried so much about the struggle which we would carry out for restoring our labor rights. However we decided to implement our struggle getting help from the KWTU.

  First we visited the staff in charge of our dismissal in order to inform them that we were dismissed without any legal base. Even though we were part time nurses, the employer could not dismiss without proper procedure because we worked more than two years and part time workers working for more than two years cannot be dismissed simply.
  Then, we pointed out that the bad records in workloads did not have any reasonable base. The staff in charge of our dismissal answered that they did not have any legal problem in dismissing us. They shouted at us. We felt so bad and felt as if our dignity was insulted.

  We already started our struggle. There was nothing to hide behind. We paid several protest visits to the bank. We even went to work in a way to struggle. We distributed our appeals and statements. We wrote letters to the newspapers. We launched picketing. Finally the bank accepted the injustice involved in sacking us. The bank guaranteed our return to the workplace and promised to pay our wages for the struggle period. At last we have returned to our workplace. It was February 2nd, 2000.

  At the beginning, we only had our will to get through our situation. But we did not have any vision for the future. Owing to the staff and members of KWTU, we could keep up. When we were totally exhausted, we were encouraged, cared for, and supported. And we could harvest the so sweet fruits of our rights.

※ 12 of 14 dismissed nurses have returned to the workplace. Four of them left the bank due to the cool behaviors of other employees in the middle of February. The rest of them are still struggling for their wages which were supposed to be paid by the bank but not yet paid.  

  Kyoung Sook Kim, a returned part time nurse of the Eastern Red Cross Blood Bank

Posted by KWWA

Voices from the workplace

They were not called union members but restaurant Ajoomma

Hyon Joo Kim,
Administration Manger of Inchon WWA

On July 31, 1998, Hyundai Car Co. dismissed 274 workers. Among the dismissed workers, 144 were women workers working in the cafeteria. On August 24, the company and trade union had a negotiation in restructurization and the trade union handed over the cafeteria from the company.  

The dismissed 144 women workers of the cafeteria were re-employed by the trade union under sub contract. When the company spoke about the dismissal, the trade union strongly protested against the dismissal and manifested that the union would struggle even for the last dismissed worker.
The women workers 1f the cafeteria supported the statement of the union and they provided meals for the union. However, they were dismissed by the company and had to struggle for their labor rights. While they struggled to go to their workplace, they were badly treated by the company guards who used violence. The company sued them and even demanded damage compensation.

The women workers asked for the help and the guarantee of their labor rights from the trade union. The union did not accept their appeals saying that their demands were not in their regulations. The women workers realized that they would not be able to conduct any legal step unless they got their identity guaranteed as union members. So, they started their protest setting tents next to the company. They had to welcome the new century from their tents.

  At the beginning of 2000, a new important company issue was brought up and the case of the women workers met the crisis of being forgotten by society. Five women workers, who were over 50 years old, launched a hunger strike. After 13 days of the hunger strike, the union leaders, struggle leaders, and the company representatives met together and promised to do their best in order to restore the dismissed women workers' jobs and formed a special committee for restoring the dismissed workers' jobs.
 They are not yet returned to their workplace. However, they were chosen  as the foundation of women's rights on International Women's Day and they won the Reward of this year's Women Militants. They showed unified women workers' power in the situation where men-oriented trade union led the situation. They provided a great opportunity to re-think about women union members.  


 Ajoomma: One way of addressing a married woman. It is distinguished from Miss or Mrs. It does not have any concept of professional or career women. It can be used for an intimate relation but, at the same time, it can be used to disgrace married women intimating that the women have no careers or reputation.

Posted by KWWA