Lee Sang-jae (Korea Migrant Workers Human Rights Center)
After the change of government, a huge discourse called the retreat of democracy emerged, causing us to stay behind the issues such as the employment permit system, the reform of the immigration law, and the reduction of the minimum wage, which were our current issues. Looking back on the first half of this year, only the names of two former presidents, Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Dae-jung, come to mind. The Immigration Control Act has not yet been submitted to our relief or the Ministry of Justice.)
Still, it is necessary to analyze the fact that the issue of the minimum wage, which directly affects migrant workers, has not been highlighted in the field. This seems to provide a good opportunity to evaluate our field activities.
Around the 5th anniversary of the implementation of the Employment Permit System on August 17, I received a lot of calls from the media looking for cases related to the issue of the Employment Permit System and the reduction of the minimum wage for migrant workers. It was not easy to find a case to link here and there. In particular, fewer people were willing to move their workplaces due to the cut in the minimum wage. It was said that the number of migrant workers whose contracts were changed due to an official document that the National Federation of Small and Medium Business Cooperatives instructs member companies in detail how to rewrite contracts with migrant workers, including the minimum wage and accommodation costs, said that there were fewer migrant workers than expected. This seems to reflect the reason why the manpower shortage is more serious than the pressure on migrant workers’ wages as the economy gradually eases. In other words, the employment permit system in the manufacturing industry already fully reflects the interests of business owners and is operated more sophisticatedly than the industrial training system, so it can be read as not being accepted as a serious problem for migrant workers.
Going one step further, it has become a system that human rights activists who are watching this phenomenon have become accustomed to. In Yongsan and Pyeongtaek, even Korean citizens with Korean nationality were pushed to the edge of the brink with the rights of the people being ignored. It seems that all of these factors worked together in response to our minimum wage cut. The struggle against the minimum wage cut, which has been ongoing against small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cooperatives in protest against the minimum wage cut in the Daegu area, was not strong enough to spread nationwide. Daegu was farther than Roh Moo-hyun, Kim Dae-jung, Yongsan, and Pyeongtaek.
Familiarity with the Employment Permit System, the burden of the historical burden of democratization, and the feeling of helplessness against the enforcement and deportation of migrant workers. Is there? no what should be Is there really such a thing?
It’s September, and it’s time to make the year’s results. After that, our general schedule would start with cultural projects. Another year will pass in no time if you hold local multicultural festivals, symposiums, forums, and year-end events. So, holding on to today and meeting new people, promising the next one, may be the most important thing we can do right now. because? This is because the Korean migration movement, which is still just the beginning, will be much more important in the next few decades.
it’s sad though As an organization contemplating the migration movement, and as an activist of that organization, I always think of the need to give up the positions where Korean human rights activists are now standing to the migrant workers. For activists who bear the duty of the movement that the parties involved must come to the fore in order for the minority movement called the migrant workers movement to develop and exert its power, a ‘common conspiracy’ to be carried out at this time is clearly needed. What is it?
I want to make it clear that this is a personal opinion, and let my imagination run wild based on the reality I have faced during the past few years of activities.
‘There are no illegal people’ and ‘skilled workers’
Accumulation of migratory movement capabilities through long-term stay is the right thing to do as Korean activists. There are two keywords that will make this possible. There is no future for migrant labor without overcoming forced deportation, which is considered a natural right of national sovereignty. Of course, there is no alternative that can overcome this. Although there are principles that activists can talk about (of course, there are human rights conventions that indicate the rights that migrant workers should enjoy regardless of their status of residence or the economic effects that migrant workers achieve), people who cry out that ‘power comes from the people’ It’s not easy to convince.
‘Skilled worker’ is the word for ‘improvement’ (activists are shy to speak first) that will break through this problem to a certain extent. For several years already, the skilled worker system has been running to silence the voices of employers. However, the conditions are unrealistic (for workers who have legally stayed for more than 5 years, high income is required for related work licenses. Under the current employment permit system, they can stay for up to 3 years), so few people know about it. . Activists raised their voices against the government’s policy for skilled workers, which floated in the air like a bright apricot, but it was not convincing. So who will speak? is a business owner
It is a very difficult problem for me to always call my employer to tell me when to pay my salary, and I do not have the will to do so. But now I have to. They, their complaints and economic logic are the first step in convincing the people and the government. It is clear that the rights of migrant workers, who are rapidly becoming vulnerable under neoliberalism, cannot be obtained from employers. However, with a long-term perspective, it is clear that anyone who has witnessed migrant worker leaders being targeted or deported from time to time will agree on how important it is to secure the right to stay even through them.
Broad economic and human solidarity woven through skilled workers. So how do we make this a reality? No, how are you going to put the first button on? It is the responsibility of the heavenly field activists. If you go through labor counseling, you will come across business owners who are complaining about their difficulties. The situation of Korean subcontractors will be sympathetic to many already. If we are constantly aware in our consultations that their complaints originate from the Korean system, not migrant workers, we will always have enough dialogue with employers who need undocumented migrant workers despite the disadvantages of enforcement penalties and cancellation of the employment permit system. It is low, but I think we can sympathize with the sense of solidarity. Isn’t it a time when we need someone who can appeal that what we need is skilled workers, not the struggle against deportation against the government. Perhaps they will be the beginning of showing us a world beyond the employment permit system and beyond the national sovereignty of enforced deportation.
I ask myself if it’s me and us who have been too atrophied from the recent appearance of society.
These are the days I desperately need to dream together.