I'm a big fan of Migrant Worker Television Korea, I think it is an excellent project that is really breaking down barriers and promoting migrant's issues. They have news in multiple languages which you can view on their broadcast on in text on their website. However, I've had problems for months opening their english news because of some bugs on their site. However, the problem seems fixed at the moment and, after some prodding by myself, they have started pasting it in text rather than attaching it as a pdf file (which I think was the cause of the problem). Anyways, I'll reprint below the migrant news from the last week of October. As you can read, there are some interesting developments in terms of policy, with the last few workers under the trainee system now being merged into the Employment Permit System, which is a mildly progressive step, but still one which does not address the overall contradictions of the EPS, or basically any form of guest worker policy which does not address the crisis of long term residents and the fact of immigration -- of which there is of yet no clear policy. I've written a bit about this issue before, back when the EPS was first being introduced, you can read it here, but keep in mind that numbers have doubled since then, and that crackdowns continue apace, though they range quite a bit in periods of severity.
Click 'view full posting' to read the latest MWTV news...
The weather's taken a sharp turn toward winter in the last couple days, so be sure to bundle up when you're heading outside.
Welcome to Multilingual Migrant Worker News for this, the fourth week of October.
I'm Linda Kwon.
Our top story tonight...
With just two months left until the Industrial Trainee Program is abolished, the Korean government has announced that the organizations currently involved with the industrial training program will become involved with the Employment Permit System after the industrial training program is discontinued.
In the fourteen years of the Industrial Training Program's existance, migrant workers have become well acquainted with these affiliate organizations such as the Korean Federation of Small & Medium Businesses.
These agencies are renowned for taking illegal commissions for job placement services. In spite of this, the Korean government has decided to join hands with these organizations to become official partners in handling the Employment Permit System. Which indicates that the government does not have a specific plan to reform and improve policies for migrant workers.
Labor human rights organizations are protesting against the proposed system and began various protests including sit-ins and rallies on October 11. They stated that official agencies of the/handling the Employment Permit System should be formed as an independent organization, or appointed by the Human Resources Development Service of Korea which is currently responsible for the Employment Permit System.
Migrant workers are still not being adequately protected under Korean labor law. According to the Ministry of Labor, about 81% of companies hiring migrant workers
violate wage agreements and other labor regulations such as physical harassment and overtime work.
Although about 1,270 labor violations were reported regarding migrant workers, only 510 cases have been settled. Among the reported cases, over 90% are about unpaid wages which total over 1.6 billion won.
Hyunggyu Maeng from the Grand National Party said that there must be many more migrant workers than have been reported who are suffering due to employer labor violations. He also asserted that the government should provide more effective and proactive solutions.
According to the Ministry of Labor, last year 56 employers were reported for sexual harassment charges and 60% of the total cases happened in small & medium size companies. The primary victims of sexual harassment were women in their 20s who totaled 46% of the cases. While 75% of those facing harassment charges were men in their 40s.
Keumsil Gang, former minister of labor and the current ambassador of women’s rights expressed grave concern about the issues of female migrant workers. She pointed out the seriousness of migrant women’s issues, especially the women who have come to Korea through international marriage. Gang is planning to visit Vietnam and the Philippines for detailed survey. She also announced that proper solutions for migrant women’s issue would be discussed through cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Gang was appointed to the post of women’s rights ambassador this past September.
A high school teacher donated an apartment worth over 600 million won to a medical center for foreign workers. Last August, Sunhee Min, a teacher at Il-Sin girl’s commercial high school donated her apartment in Bundang to the medical center for foreign workers in Garibongdong in Seoul. Her husband passed away in 1993 with acute leukemia and he left the apartment. She said that her husband would be pleased to know that the money would be used for saving lives. Min had worked at a factory when she was young. She finished her college education as a part time student and obtained a teacher’s qualification. She has worked as a high school teacher for the last 26 years.
There are no famous actors or world famous directors. However, the 1st Migrant Worker Film Festival has attracted the media's attention. The film festival kicked off in Pocheon on the 1st of October, and since then, has held screenings in Ansan, Seoul, and Daegu. A number of films made by migrant workers themselves were included among the 30 featured domestic and foreign films. These films show the current situation of migrant workers. The film festival has been touted by Korean media as a good opportunity for Korean society to better understand migrant workers and break down the wall of mutual distrust.
On October 22, We Too Love Bucheon 2006 Multicultural Festival was held in Bucheon. Migrant workers from 12 countries including Nepal, Russia, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Bangladesh participated in this event. The festival kicked off with an parade of participating migrant workers. In addition, cultural performances of different countries, a quiz show, sport activities including a cricket tournament, and an exhibition of traditional cultures & food were prepared.
The highlight of the festival was an actual traditional Bangladeshi wedding ceremony between a couple from Bangladesh. There was also a concert featuring traditional music from Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, and Sri Lanka.
This year's Nobel Peace Prize went to Dr. Muhammad Yunus along with the bank he founded, Grameen Bank for the simple, yet revolutionary, idea of lending tiny sums to poor people to start businesses, helping hundreds of millions of people earn their way out of poverty. Grameen Bank was founded in 1976 and the world has long recognized Yunus and his bank’s contributions to reducing poverty by providing ‘Micro-credit’ over the past three decades. On October 18, Yunus visited Seoul to receive the 2006 Seoul Peace Award. In spite of a tight schedule, he met with migrant workers from Bangladesh at the Shilla Hotel on October 19. In the meeting, Yunus asserted that migrant workers should work together to reduce poverty in Bangladesh. Participating migrant workers also discussed current problems they are facing here in Korea. After receiving the 2006 Seoul Peace Award, Professor Muhammad Yunus left for Bangladesh on October 20.
We have a couple announcements for you tonight...
Starting next year, the Ministry of Labor has revised work safety laws to ensure faster reporting of industrial accidents. The revised regulation states that if a death or serious accident occurs at the workplace, it must be reported within 24 hours. In addition, the reporting process will also be improved so that there will be someone to receive calls at night and on weekends. The phone number to call to report any serious accidents at work is 1588-3088.
The first annual Migrant Worker Film Festival "Films Without Borders, Moving Imagination" has been successfully touring various regions around the country and will continue to run until November 19.
The remaining dates are as follows:
October 29th, in Pusan at the Community Media Center as well as in Maseok at Shalom House.
Sunday, November 5 in two locations: Bucheon at the Migrant Worker House and in Uijeongbu Songuri - Songuri-dong Office.
And lastly, Sunday November 19 in Shiheung at the Jakun Jari Migrant Worker Center.
For more information, please visit the MWFF website at www.mwff.or.kr [or you can call 6366-0621].
That's all for this, the fourth week edition of Multilingual Migrant Worker News for October.
You can watch rebroadcasts of the news on our web site at www.mwtv.or.kr or www.rtv.or.kr.
Thanks for being with us. Good night.