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Illegal subcontracting let Mr. Jung die
An electric worker’s death brings about rages of the labor
Lee Kkoch-mam, Reporter
The martyr reveals the issue of irregular workers

Four days after Jung Hae-jin, an electric worker burned himself in the cause of workers and passed away, the late Jung’s family decided to give the union all the authorities of funeral services. A rally was held near Ministry of Labor in Kyung-ki and In-cheon area yesterday. And public meeting is held around Hangang Sacred Heart Hospital where the body is laid every 10am and a candle demonstration will be held today (on October 30).

National Council of Irregular Workers’ Union issued a statement today saying that to be an irregular worker in Korea means only to put his or her life exposed to a sudden death and that the martyr has revealed the grim reality that indirectly hired workers far from job security are facing.

Too many UPS firms cause illegal subcontracting and safety-related accidents

The late Jung was indirectly hired by a subcontractor which receives orders of building and repairing electric equipment from Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

In the latest parliamentary audit representative Lim Jong-in pointed to the illegal practice of pretending to be able to handle UPS equipment in the course of bidding and then subcontracting to another firms after winning the contract.

In fact, firms that are awarded contract from KEPCO, the representative said, are just 1,500-odd out of total 3,262 registered firms. As a result, firms are scrambling to win contract and causing “low-quality construction and illegally renting qualification certificate”.

These illegal customs are actually threatening workers in the field. Although KEPCO estimated safety-related accidents at 20 cases in 2005 and 15 in 2006, the figures out of Korea Electric Safety Corporation are quite different; 130 in 2005 and 128 in 2006. The accidents include electric shocks and falling from high-voltage cables.

It’s a murder of the capital and the government

An official of National Council of Irregular Workers’ Union said that the chance of death is always haunting around the fields when workers were forced to work overtime and exposed to dangerous working conditions such as extremely tall electric pole and iron tower running 22,000 voltage electric current without any reliable safety devices, and added that the death was destined to happen given the fact that the basic requirements of 44-hour workweek and work safety were simply ignored, along with the recognition of union as well.

And the official insisted that the death was a kind of murder conducted by the capital and the government just like another deaths of irregular worker martyrs. The capital and the government have responded to our ceaseless claiming only with fists and clubs, so we’ve had no choice but facing death. Now we are asking them to answer.

The KCTU president meets the Minister of Labor

The KCTU president Lee Suk-hang met the Minister of Labor Lee Sang-su yesterday.

According to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions’ press kit, the KCTU president said to the Minister that the underlying problem in this situation was same with what Pohang Construction Workers’ Union had faced and that among other things delay in payments and lack of safety measures were especially severe. And he urged the Minister to secure special inspection on working condition and illegal practices.

And he particularly pointed to the president of Yung-jun Electric Industry Co. as a main culprit of worsening the relation between labor and capital and urged investigation on the boss under arrest. The Minister showed positive stance with the problem and said that he acknowledged the de facto relation between KEPCO and electric workers and that the Ministry of Labor would make efforts to analysis the relations and put proper measures in place.

translated by Cho Eun-seok

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