Wednesday, May 02, 2007

As new labour law takes effect, dodgy contracts proliferate

[Update: May 3rd] There is a good follow up story to the one below in the Hankyoreh about how rife the abuse of labour standards is in the government itself, extending to just about every ministry, from justice to even the Ministry of Labour.
Cheon Ok-ja, 61, has done the cleaning at Kyunggi Girls High School for 22 years. On February 28, the school suddenly forced her sign a two-month contract. The school said that it would outsource its cleaning needs. When Cheon refused to sign the contract, the school refused to allow her to enter the school. She says she begged school authorities for her job back but to no avail.
Here's a good story in today's Hankyoreh about the sort of practices that are beginning to take effect before South Korea's law on irregular work takes place. The law, which was not exactly designed to protect irregular workers, ends up encouraging a range of bad practices. Workers who have worked at a company for more than two years are supposed to be given regular work status, but, with the exception of a few workers that the government regularized, instead many are being forced short term contracts. Formally, the bill is supposed to end discrimination between regular and irregular workers, whom at the moment can do the same job under the same roof but for different pay and benefits. What the bill seems to be creating, however, is a situation where those jobs can just be outsourced or contracted all together, thus further expanding inequality. Cheon Ok-ja's case is just one example of such.

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