Monday, May 24, 2010

Freeters, Migrants, Samsung

As I get back to posting on a more regular basis, I'm going to make a few large summaries of issues that I haven't followed for a while. So, starting with contemporary labour issues, here is a string of links:

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) has dismissed 134 public school teachers for being indicted, along with other civil servants, by prosecutors on charges that included membership in the minor opposition Democratic Labor Party (DLP). Korean teachers cannot join political parties. South Korea has not ratified ILO Convention 87, on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, or ILO Convention 98, on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining. This has led to calls by the ILO for Korea to improve labour standards.

The government is expanding its crackdown on undocumented migrant workers in advance of November's G20 summit. You can read more on the recent history of the migrant movement here.

Samsung has come under a lot of criticism lately not only for possible collusion with government prosecutors but also because of the high incidence of cancer among its workers. Activists protesting the death of another young Samsung worker were recently arrested. Stop Samsung has more on the high rate of blood cancer among young Samsung workers.

One out of 10 Korean workers was found to be paid less than the legal minimum wage, according to a recent survey. South Korea's gender wage gap was also found to be the highest in the OECD, as was the number of industrial accidents (though there may be some issues of reporting standards here).

The KWWA has been protesting the low wages that 'interns' receive, as has a newly formed Youth Union based on the Japanese Freeter movement (picture). That's all for now.

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