ecruitment status of migrant workers in Korean companies and multiculturalism
Multiculturalism, Replay Without Bubbles <Ep 5>
* This project is a support project for the Press Promotion Fund of the Korea Press Foundation.
Ki-don Kim (Director, Policy Bureau, Korea Migrant Human Rights Center)
It has been more than 20 years since Korean companies introduced foreign workers in earnest, starting with the trainee system of overseas investment corporations (hereafter, Haetou) in 1991. There have been many changes in the policy for introducing foreign workers from the current employment permit system to the visiting employment system, but the fact that there is no change is that the number of foreign workers introduced has steadily increased. The number of low-skilled foreign workers, which was 9,076 in 1992, after the introduction of Haetut trainees, increased by 56 times to 511,241 as of August 2010. has been diversified
The reason why the number of foreign workers in Korean companies is increasing is largely due to the purpose of utilizing relatively low-wage foreign workers and resolving the manpower shortage in low-skilled and skilled industries. From a chronological point of view, in the early days of the introduction of foreign workers, the main purpose was to utilize low-wage labor, but in recent years, the shortage of manpower in low-skilled skilled industries has become more important.
While the Marine Fighting Trainee System and Industrial Technology Trainee System, which were implemented for the purpose of introducing and utilizing low-wage labor force, were reduced or abolished, employment that can introduce the necessary manpower to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with less than 30 employees and small businesses suffering from severe manpower shortages It can also be felt that the permit system and the visiting employment system are expanding further. Of course, the Employment Permit System and the Visiting Employment System also force low wages and long hours of work compared to domestic workers. It is clear that it is ahead of the desire to do.
‘Cheap labor’ and ‘Respect for cultural diversity’
However, despite this reality, Korean companies still have a strong view of migrant workers as ‘cheap labor’ rather than as ‘guest workers’ introduced to address the shortage of local workers. For this reason, conflicts that occur in the workplace often have a problem with ‘cheap treatment’ for ‘cheap labor force’. These conflicts are also combined with the attitudes of employers and corporate members who do not recognize cultural diversity, resulting in visible discrimination.
Moreover, the corporate culture that emphasizes ‘family love’ unique to Korea is another reason to view and make migrant workers as heterogeneous. The president of the company is ‘father’ and the factory manager is ‘older brother’. The company’s crisis is replaced by another similar family crisis, and migrant workers who are not willing to overcome such a crisis together are outside the family and are treated as ungrateful and abandoned children. Therefore, when a labor dispute arises with the management, in Japan, lawyers and labor consultants are appointed to negotiate with contract clauses at the official negotiating table, whereas Korean companies often respond irrationally, such as abusive language and assault.
Korean companies often forget the fact that the company and workers are in a contractual relationship based on trust. It is difficult to find the value of ‘respect for cultural diversity’ in the corporate culture unique to Korean companies and discrimination due to the view of migrant workers as ‘cheap labor force’. The atmosphere of Korean society, where the term and value of ‘multicultural’ is used so narrowly to mean providing services to marriage immigrant women, their children, and their families, overlooks the importance of ‘respect for cultural diversity’ for migrant workers. It is true that there is also an aspect of making. These problems are particularly frequent in SMEs and small businesses with less than 30 employees.
Large corporations and migrant workers
So what about large corporations? Most Koreans recognize that migrant workers and large corporations do not have much contact. But in conclusion, it is not. A significant number of migrant workers are working through the aforementioned sea fighting trainee system and partner companies. According to a 2008 study on trainees from overseas investment corporations by the Metal Workers’ Union, Hanjin Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding, Hyundai Mipo Shipbuilding, and GM Daewoo Changwon Plant were either introducing or hiring migrant workers through subcontractors. Since 1995, it has been introducing trainees through Woods GM, a local corporation in Uzbekistan, as a representative workplace for fighter trainees.
In the case of a large number of new recruits, 600~700 trainees worked, and it was found that in 2008, the local corporation paid $250 a month (approximately 270,000 won) to the trainees’ wages through the local corporation. Many large corporations are using the overseas trainee system to employ a large number of migrant workers as trainees.
In particular, the Marine Fighting Training System utilizes the status of a ‘trainee’ to which the Labor Act does not apply in its entirety and loopholes in the system, and utilizes foreign workers for less than half of the minimum wage of domestic workers. It is a system that has been criticized for being an anti-human rights system. In particular, these trainees live in dormitories within a large-scale factory, so contact with the outside is blocked.
However, it is said that these large corporations are carrying out projects to support multicultural families in the name of social contribution. For example, GM Daewoo held a joint wedding for 11 couples of multicultural families and defectors in Incheon through the GM Daewoo Hanmaeum Foundation, and donated the ‘Matiz Creative’ vehicle to organizations that support multicultural families through the vehicle support project every year. are doing Companies that do not pay the minimum wage for migrant workers are jumping into multicultural family support projects to improve their image.
And GM Daewoo Changwon plant is said to be in charge of producing ‘Matiz Creative’ vehicles, which are also supported by organizations that support multicultural families. The irony is that vehicles produced by migrant workers for low wages of $250 are donated in the name of ‘support for multicultural families’. It cannot but be said to be an example of what ‘multiculturalism’ is like for large Korean companies.
Migrant workers and multiculturalism
Personally, I think the bubble of ‘multiculturalism’ occurred the moment the term ‘multicultural’ excluded 700,000 migrant workers (even if it was unintentional). Priority should be given to guaranteeing labor rights and eliminating discrimination against migrant workers, who make up the majority of all migrants in Korean companies and in Korean society. As a result, our society’s perspective on migrants will change. This is because understanding and respect for cultural diversity will begin right where they look at each other in an equal relationship. The field of work is the field of life. It is time to start ‘multiculturalism’ from the field of everyday life.
* This article was written for Salad TV.